The Ultimate “How To” Writing Book by Christopher Fielden.
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Contact Christopher Fielden

I’m always happy to hear from anyone who wants to comment or request further information about any of the site’s content. Comments (unless you state that you do not want your comment used) might be published on the site, as long as they aren’t too rude.

I’m happy to hear from writers or publishers or people who are genuinely interested in my website about anything - feel free to ask questions.

Email

You can email me at

Phone

My number is: +44 (0) 777 906 2911.

I am very rude to people who try and sell me stuff I do not want. Only call me if you have a real reason to do so please.

Address

If you're a bit old school and want to send me stuff in the post, please send mail to:

16a Beach Road West, Portishead, Bristol, BS20 7HR, UK

Please DO NOT send any story/blog submissions to me by post. I do not accept submissions to the To Hull And Back short story competition, the writing challenges I run, my proofreading services or guest posts for my blog by post. If you want to submit anything to me, please contact me by email.

If you're a spammer, please save the trees - do not send me stuff I have not requested. It will end up in landfill. Well... in my recycling box. Landfill just sounds more dramatic.

To avoid any confusion, I live near Bristol in the UK. Below is a map that shows you where it is. It's an amazing city, full of art and culture, so perfect for creative types.

Bristol, United Kingdom, map of where Bristol is located in the UK

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Claire F
Just wanted to say thank you for this amazing site - it's such a great help! I\'m only 16 but aspire to be a writer and without your website I would have had no idea where to begin. I read a snippet of one of your stories and was drawn in from the first paragraph - you're extremely talented! 

Thanks  again :)

Chris Fielden
Thanks Claire!

Graham A
Just been told about your site by my Creative Writing mentor. Looks great.

Chris Fielden
Thanks Graham :-)

Don B
Good morning, I have written several stories and get a great deal of pleasure from writing.  But, I am in the United States  Do the contests in the UK permit American writers?

What you have on this site is very attractive to me and seems like an excellent way for me to measure my abilities.  I have little hope of ever winning but it is the journey and not the destination. 

Thank you for your time.

Chris Fielden
Don, yes, the vast majority of short story competitions accept entries from writers residing anywhere in the world as long as the stories are written in English. There are a few exceptions, but not many. You will have to read the entry rules for each competition to be sure, but 99% of them will accept entries from US citizens.

Best of luck with your writing and stay positive - if you keep at it and refuse to give up, you will see your work published at some point :-)

Jose S
I would like to submit a rather extra-generic story to a competition. Do you have any suggestions? Thank you kindly...

Chris Fielden
Jose, there are loads of short story competitions and short story magazines listed in the writing advice section of the website.

You'll have to do a bit of research and see where your story would fit best. I usually recommend the regular competitions as a good starting point as a lot of them will publish a wide variety of stories which gives most styles a good chance of success.

Best of luck with your writing.

Art J
Hi Chris, any "Christopher Fielden" 2014 short story competitions? Thank you, Art

Chris Fielden
Art, yes, I run a competition. You can find out about it on the competition page :-)

Caroline LN
I'm a budding author and just wanted to thank you very much for all the work that you have put into your website; it's an excellent resource. Thank you!.

Chris Fielden
No problem Caroline - glad you found the site useful :-)

Aiysha R
Hi, I am always writing storys and wondered if I could send you one of them to read.

Chris Fielden
Aiysha, I receive many requests like this and cannot offer to proofread stories for free I'm afraid. I offer a paid proofreading service in the Writing Services section of my website.

I hope that might be of interest to you :-)

Marcin L
Chris, I hope this email finds you well. My name is Marcin. I am a Polish poet, with a big dilemma :) I have just written my first short story.  I got some technical support from Mike  Scott Thompson. I have created my second story, around 800 words. English is not my mother tongue,  so I am struggling with grammar and logical mistakes. I don't want to ask Mike again for help. Would you kindly look at my story briefly and smooth it, please?  If you are too busy to do so, I will understand. Thank you.

Chris Fielden
Marcin, I'm afraid I receive many requests of this nature and simply don't have the time to offer this kind of service for free. However, I do offer a paid service in the Writing Services section of my website. You can find a link 2 comments above.

If that is of interest to you, please let me know.

I wish you the best of luck with your writing!

Vicki G
I just wanted to say it is so refreshing to see that someone regularly updates  their page. Well done! It is a pleasure reading this and the markets you put up for opportunities with writing. Thank you.

Chris Fielden
Welcome Vicki, I'm glad you like the site - always good to hear :-)

Ibomcha K
My first novel - "Enter the king" - aims to enter a big award / contest. I seek your guidance.

Chris Fielden
Ibomcha, the best bet is to research book and novel competitions and see which is best suited to your work. I have a list of them on my site here.

I hope the list proves helpful :-)

William B
Good Day, I am simply a 70 year old, who after two careers, have resorted to writing of my many experiences in the out-of-doors with various friends. They are all in the form of e-mails sent only to my family members and close friends. Some have said I should share some of them with others. I am not a professional writer. Just recording my memories. Nor do I expect anything in return should you desire to print one, other than the satisfaction and perhaps being provided a record of such.

Should you like one I will gladly send it. The one I would like to present is a combination of short to medium e-mails, 12 in total.

Thank you for your time, Christopher.

In this day and age, relief from stress for just a few moments revives the sole in order to press on. Bill

Chris Fielden
Bill, I'm afraid I don't publish other writer's work, except through my short story competition, so I won't be able to help.

I'd suggest you research the competitions and magazines listed on my site (and other sites, like BookTrust) to see if there are any opportunities appropriate to your style of writing.

I hope that's helpful and wish you the best of luck with publishing your work.

Alice L
I have written a short story of 12.000 words. My story is called The Woman In White. This is a supernatural tale. My pen name is Alice Lowe after my great grandmother. I have finished it and would like to send you it in May. I'm confident that my story is good. I write books also.  Two have been published,  and another two I am working on; Stalking Maggie, and Manor Lake.

Chris Fielden
Alice I'm afraid I don't publish other writer's work, except through my short story competition, details of which you can find here.

If you want your work proofread, please see the details in the Writing Services section.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Debra H
I'm not sure where to start... so here I am... I was recently diagnosed with skin cancer... I have written a very short story from the cancer's point of view.

30 Days in the Life of a Skin Cancer - " The Story of Murgatroyd" - my friends have read it... they give it good reviews... it is written with a bit of humour and they say it is interesting... can you point me in the right direction to possibly take this further ..? Thank you.

Chris Fielden
Debra, I run a humorous short story competition through my website, so it might be suitable for that. You can learn more here.

Aside from that, I guess you need to do a bit of research and see which publications might be suitable for your writing style. I often recommend Writers' Forum as they consider a wide variety of genres and styles. It's best to buy the magazine and see if you think your writing might fit with the publication.

I hope that's helpful and wish you the best of luck with your writing.

Nancy W
Please can you tell me why you called your competition and book 'To Hull and Back'? I live in Hull and got your book from the library as I thought it was short stories about Hull. Are you from Hull?

Chris Fielden
Hi Nancy, I'm not from Hull - I'm based in Bristol. I called the competition 'To Hull and Back' as it's a play on words (to hell and back) and that's due to the short story competition I run and the prize. The competition winner's head appears on the cover of the book and then I strap a copy to my motorbike and film it being ridden to Hull and back (it's a looooong way from Bristol!).

I actually filmed the first video last weekend and stayed the night in a little hotel located underneath the Humber bridge. It was lovely - you live in an amazing part of the country :)

2014 was the first year of the competition, so I'm hoping it will become more widely known over time.

I hope you enjoy reading the stories - it's nice to know there's a copy of the anthology in Hull!

Archana D
Hi, I am writing on behalf of my 7 yr old boy who loves story writing and his work is highly  appreciated by his teachers at school.

He scored level 3 in  story writing at his  Key stage 1. He is interested in dinosaurs and always brings them alive in his work.

 I want to encourage him to write in a competition, as requested by his teachers from school. Please send me writing topics that could be entered into competitions for him to write during the summer  holidays.

 Thank you.

Chris Fielden
Hi Archana, the best bet is to research some competitions and look at the themes and styes of stroies they ask for. Then your son can concentrate on writing something for a specific competition. There is a list of short story competitions for children and young writers on my short story competitions page.

I hope that's helpful!

Kerry C
I'm afraid I find it difficult to trust your site when there is a bondage type picture there - "lengthen your healthspan".

Chris Fielden
Hi Kerry, unfortunately I have no control over the adverts that are shown on the site - it is all powered by Google AdSense who have strict rules about the content they provide, so there shouldn't be anything offensive coming up. If you were offended by the ad I can only apologise and report the advert to Google.

The ads are what allow me to provide all the information on this website for free as they generate a small amount of income - enough to cover the basic costs of running the site. As I wish to continue providing information for free rather than charging users, the ads must stay I'm afraid.

I hope that explains everything and that you feel you can now trust my site :-)

Helen W
What a refreshing advice page you have.  I'm constantly bombarded with competitions from all quarters, so to find them listed rationally, orderly and comprehensively is a huge relief.  A humour competition to boot.  They're rare. You will be hearing from me.  Please note, I have curtailed my habit of littering my prose with exclamation marks as per advice given.  However, you didn't say anything about emoticons 😀.

Chris Fielden
Hi Helen, excellent, I will look forward to reading your entry.

Sadly, Outlook decided to mask your wonderful and undoubtedly inventive emoticon usage in gobbledygook. I can only guess what 😀 might mean. I hope it's rude.

Herman T
Dear Mr. Fielden, I trust you are well.

My son, Timon, is a Grade 7 (12-year old) pupil here in Johannesburg (South-Africa). He loves reading - and writing.

I have not been able to locate/source a local writer's guild, for him to join - the only available groupings are for young adults.

Would you permit him to submit essays and/or short stories? I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you.

Chris Fielden
Hi Herman, I only accept published short stories and entries to my short story competition on my site.

You can see my submission guidelines here.

And the details on my short story competition here.

There are quite a few competitions listed on my site for children and young adults. You can find details here.

I hope that's helpful and I wish your son the best of luck with his writing in the future.

Jocelyn G
Hi Chris. Please could you advise - I live in South Africa and am finding it very difficult for anyone to give me some advice. I have written a little love story (personified) between two dogs, and all I want to know is how do I get someone to read it and tell me if it is good enough to get published or if it's a waste of time. I have tried many places and am being shunned from pillar to post.

Your input would be most helpful.

Chris Fielden
Hi Jocelyn

There are a few options you could explore. You can use a proofreading service, like the one I offer. This is a good way of getting detailed feedback, but does cost money.

Another option is to submit your stories to a platform that might gain comments and feedback. I've heard Wattpad is good. I've recently joined but haven't had a chance to use it much yet. So that could be worth looking at.

The other thing you can do is submit to competitions that offer feedback either as part of the prize, or for a low price. I often recommend Writers' Forum for this as they offer terse feedback at a cheap price.

I hope that's helpful.

Jocelyn G
Thanks Chris so much for coming back to me so quickly - much appreciated.

Ana H
Dear Chris, I am a novice writer making my way through the Book Publishing Jungle, and as a novice I have lots to learn and experience to acquire. I find your website very interesting and the fact of finding your picture and email address somehow makes me feel in a secure zone.

I am trying to get as much information as possible about writers and their experiences and you have a variety of articles with tips that can help me as a writer. 

Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

Chris Fielden
Hi Ana. No problem - glad you like the site and find it useful.

You might find my book helpful - the opening section is available for free here.

I wish you the best of luck with your writing.

Jerry W
Hello, Chris. I sense a void in my life that I believe can be filled only by attending a Stokes Croft Writers Talking Tales reading. Are you planning an event for Ocala, Florida? We love stories, although we generally miss the clever bits and always laugh at the wrong places.

Chris Fielden
Hi Jerry. I understand where you're coming from - Talking Tales is likely to fill any void.

Unfortunately, we don't have our tour of the US planned as yet (working on it).

However, you can listen to all the Talking Tales events on the SCW YouTube Channel.

Consider that void partially filled.

Gabe H
Hi, my name's Gabe and I am about 50 pages into a teen-fiction book about a kid becoming apprentice to The Devil - it's pretty complicated. Anyway, I'd eventually like to get it published, but before I do that, I'd like to try my hand at short story writing. I'm only in Year 9, and therefore feel that it would be better to enter teen competitions, so if anyone on this site knows of any competitions aimed at teenagers, then please don't hesitate to contact me.

Chris Fielden
Hi Gabe. There are lots of competitions for younger writers listed on my site.

You can see them here.

Some of those will have categories for your age group.

Congrats on getting 50 pages into your book. It sounds like a great idea. I wish you the best of luck with it :-)

Ernie S
I am 70 years old and a retired electrician, I have written a few poems, some silly. I have also written a few stories. My children think I should try to get them published, although I write for fun as soon as an idea pops in my head.

I recently wrote a poem about war, after remembrance Sunday.

How do I get it published along with my other poems and stories? I am also a Freemason and if they achieve any monetary value I could donate this to a charity.

Please let me know what you think.

Chris Fielden
Hi Ernie. There are a few options to explore regarding publication.

  1. You could try entering some of the competitions listed on this page. Writers' Forum is a good one to start with. You'll find the details in the lists. There are also lists of short story competitions and short story magazines in this section of the website.
  2. You could research poetry magazines and journals etc. and submit to them. I know very little about this I'm afraid, but I'm sure Google would reveal some to you.
  3. You could self-publish using CreateSpace. It's free to use and owned by Amazon, so distributing books and making them available for purchase are easy. However, you'd then have to market the book to generate sales, which is time consuming.

I hope that's helpful and wish you the best of luck with your writing.

Janet J
I'm looking for magazines who want to publish true life stories. I've written many nostalgic memoirs, some happy, some sad, some a bit naughty and some extremely funny. I've had two short memory stories published in a magazine, but would like to expand my publishers, because I have many stories to sell.

Can you help and advise me please.

Chris Fielden
Hi Janet. I'm not aware of any magazines that specifically ask for real-life stories I'm afraid.

I list a lot of magazine opportunities on my Short Story Magazine page, in the Writing Advice section of my website. Many of them accept non-fiction as well as short stories, so that might be a good place to start your research.

I also list a couple of memoir competitions on this page. They might be suitable for you.

I hope that's helpful :-)

Tammy N
I just wanted to thank-you for your website, it's incredibly helpful. The money donated to charity is admirable. It's a pleasure to browse through your website. Your challenges are very motivational to the aspiring writer.

Chris Fielden
Thanks very much Tammy - it's always nice to hear that people find the site useful.

I'll look forward to reading a writing challenge submission from you in the future then :-)

Carla W
Hi Chris, thanks for your website and for all the helpful information that you have provided here. With regards to the Manchester Fiction competition, is it possible to find the winning stories to read? Or would I get that by just signing up with them? Interested in 'A Friend Called Elspeth' for starters at least. Thanks.

Chris Fielden
Hi Carla. Yes, you can read them all on the website.

Here's a link to the 2016 winners.

You will probably find links to previous comps on the pages about those years. That's where I found this one :-)

SF S
There's nothing worse than reading useless and outdated information. As a complete beginner, finding your site has given me direction. Thanks to you, I've grown a pair of balls... although I must say the power of breasts does work at times. Thank you for a great website. Not only is it informative, it is funny and honest.

Chris Fielden
Hi SF. Thank you :-) It's always nice to hear that people find the site useful.

I've never been held responsible for helping anyone grow balls before. I shall be sure to add that to my CV and investigate becoming a doctor.

As for the power of breasts... I think that would make an excellent blog post. Please check out my submissions guidelines.

Arjun K
Hello, Iam the author of the Deadliest Secret of Truth trilogy. It's my debt novel. I wish to have an opportunity to make my novel famous. Can you help? Awaiting your warm response.

Thank you.

Chris Fielden
Hi Arjun. You could try platforms like Inkitt. You will find details of them on this page.

The page also contains details of lots of book and novel competitions, so you could consider submitting to them.

I hope you find that helpful. Good luck with your book :-)

Chris B
Thank you for this site, Christopher. I have always had stories in my head which I find difficult to put down on paper/screen. I've started writing them down at 49. I do wish I had started earlier. Your stories are what I like to read and this has inspired me, realising that competition holders do not dismiss the off-beat story. The judges comments are invaluable and I appreciate you displaying them.

Chris Fielden
No problem, Chris.

Really glad to hear you find the site inspiring :-)

Victoria A
Dear Sir/Madam, I'm interested in selling short fiction. If you're interested, please email me back.

Thank you for your time.

Chris Fielden
Hi Victoria. I don't buy stories - you would have to enter my short story competition or writing challenges if you want me to consider your stories for publication.

Try looking at the short story magazine lists on my site. You might find a suitable publication for your work there.

Sally L
Dear Chris, I wondered whether gently despairing comedy was acceptable for your competition? As in comedy that doesn't produce a lot of laughs, but perhaps a hollow chuckle.

I realise I even look gently despairing in my photo.

I thought, therefore, before I pay my fee, that I should check with you whether gently despairing comedy is possibly a genre, or whether it's just me.

Yours in gentle (but possibly funny?) despair, Sally L

Chris Fielden
Hi Sally, I appreciate all types of humour, so despairing could work.

I strongly recommend that writers read one or more of the previous To Hull And Back anthologies before entering, so they can clearly see which styles the judges prefer. That'll give you a much better chance of submitting a successful entry.

I'll look forward to reading your story - good luck with your submission :)

Sally L
Hi Chris, thanks for your advice. I will give the anthology a go.

Best wishes, Sally

Aoiri O
I hope I get the break I desire from all your useful tips.

Chris Fielden
Thanks Aoiri - glad you find the tips useful. Good luck with your writing :-)

Reena C
Hi, my name is Reena. I am from India. I would like to submit my story, poetry. I think this is the right platform. I like the way you mention all the details. You are straight forward. You are not rude but pure of heart. Whatever you think, you write in detail. Thanks.

Chris Fielden
Hi Reena. Thanks for your kind words.

If you want to submit stories or poetry to me, please take a look at my writing challenges and submit something to one of those.

If you have been using my site to find short story and poetry competitions, then I wish you the best of luck with your submissions :-)

Reena C
Hi Chris. Thanks for replying to me. I'm glad and thank you, I will do that.

But I need your guidance also.

Chris Fielden
Hi Reena. What do you need my guidance on?

Reena C
Hi Chris. Thanks for giving your precious time. Actually, I sent my poetry, articles and stories to many competitions but am always rejected. I don't know what kind of material they want. But I'm still trying and after searching a lot I found your website so I thought, let's try your website... Maybe I have a chance.

So, just asking for guidance.

Chris Fielden
Hi Reena. If you are getting rejected, the best thing to do is ask the people you have submitted to why. Sometimes they will reply with something useful.

Out of interest, do you read back issues of the publications you submit to? Many writers don’t research the market they are submitting to, which is a big mistake. I see it all the time with the short story competition I run. If people read the previous years’ anthologies, they would have a much better chance of writing a winning story.

If you don’t undertake market research, I would strongly recommend starting to do so. It can make a big difference with your success rate.

I hope that’s helpful.

Reena C
Dear Chris, good evening to you.

Thank you, I will do that. I got a lot of information from you and this can help me in the future. Maybe my writing abilities will get better with this kind of knowledge.

Thanks a lot for help.

Chris Fielden
No problem, Reena :-)

Andrew S
I am completely disillusioned by literary competitions. They are nothing more and nothing less than a money grab for the organizers. Artistic talent and good writing skills honoured are a thing of past competitions. Now the winners are selected from a select group of entrants who also buy books, partake in seminars and workshops, or otherwise give free money to organizers of short story and other literary contests. I refuse to ever again participate in such a travesty of supporting talented writers.

Chris Fielden
Hi Andrew. Sorry you feel that way. You could submit to my writing challenges, if that is of interest to you?

No entry fee. No prizes, as it's not a competition, but every entry is published (as long as the very simple rules are followed). Profits from book sales are donated to charity. The challenges are about learning, but also to remind people that writing can be fun. I hope that is of interest to you.

Henry A
Aren't there any international competitions? Everything is restricted to a particular country. Please help.

Chris Fielden
Hi Henry. Most of the competitions I list are international and accept entries from anywhere in the world.

I list the country they are based in, so writers know which global market they are submitting to.

Jim T
Hello Chris, a mate has just recommended your short story competition to me, but how do I pay for my entries?

(Isn't Hull other people? That's what that French bloke reckons.)

Jim T
Oops. Disregard my question asking how I pay for my entries, I've just found the reference to PayPal, etc. Nice one.

Chris Fielden
No problem, thanks Jim.

Look forward to receiving your entry.

Comment text to go here.
Really enjoyed your book 'How to Write a Short Story', Chris. It inspired me to write a story of my own - the wife liked it (bless her) but said it was too short. 858 words. So wrestling with the Demon of Doubt at the moment to see if I can write a longer one.

Chris Fielden
Hi Paul. Really glad to hear you enjoyed the book - thanks for buying it!

Great to hear that you've written a story too. There are plenty of opportunities for flash fiction (stories of 1,000 words or less). You can find more details here.

I hope that's helpful and wish you the best of luck with your writing.

Roz K
Hi Chris. Your website looks very interesting and I have requested a sample of your book. My question is fairly simple: what length short stories tend to be most popular? I am aware Flash Fiction is usually under 500 words, and I need extreme inspiration to come up with anything like that, but I tend to write 900 - 2,000 words normally,  because I am part of a writers group and that length seems to to OK to read aloud. Do you have any views about what's an optimum length?

Many thanks for your help.

Chris Fielden
Hi Roz. I've just sent you the free PDF. Thanks for ordering it.

I don't think there is an optimum length - a story should be as long as it needs to be. That said, most competitions ask for 5,000 words or less. Many are 3,000 or less. Flash fiction is also growing in popularity, so shorter stories are becoming more common.

If you look at my lists of short story competitions and magazines, you can research word limits in more detail.

Really, it's down to you and what you want to write. I hope that's helpful.

Rob I
As a virgin author, I have been truly inspired by you, your books on Amazon and, of course, this website. I hope to be able to enter this year's To Hull and Back competition.

The query I have may be answered somewhere on your website, if so I apologise. As a virgin writer I am keen to get a professional critique of my writing. What is the done thing in my situation?

Should I enter the competition and see how it goes, then once it closes pay you to critique my story? Or is it considered rude or cheeky to have the critique done before submitting the story to the competition?

Like I said, I am an absolute newbie to story writing, though at 62, I have come to it rather late :-)

Thanks for the inspiration and your time.

Chris Fielden
Hi Rob, thanks for getting in touch. It's great to hear you find the site inspirational.

I usually advise authors to get a critique before entering competitions or submitting to magazines. That means they can take any feedback on board and edit their story to make it as strong as possible before sending it in for consideration. It gives you better chance of seeing your work published.

You can use the critique services on my website (see the Services section of the site). I don't undertake the critiques, my team do it. None of them have anything to do with judging To Hull And Back, so that means you can still submit to my competition if you would like to.

If the critique services on my site don't appeal to you, there are other options on this page.

I hope that's helpful and I'll look forward to receiving your To Hull And Back competition entry.

Brian R
Hi Chris, I note your comments about exclamation  marks. Please edit out any you feel are unnecessary.

Chris Fielden
Thanks, Brian - I always do :-)

Masa P
I just wanted to thank you for this site and wanted to ask if I could enter competitions. I'm only 14 and aspire to be a poet. I have a book of my very own poems which I would like to share with the world and pursue my dream.

Chris Fielden
Hi Masa. No problem, I'm glad you like the site. I list a lot of poetry competitions here, including a list for younger writers. Some contests have age limits, but quite a few accept entries from younger writers. You'll just have to research which ones you can enter.

I also list competitions for books, some of which accept poetry entries, here.

I hope that helps and wish you the best of luck with your writing :-)

Masa P
I am very thankful for your help and feedback.

Chris Fielden
Thanks, Masa, no problem.

Rookmin DM
I have a manuscript based on real life experiences and am willing to enter a competition. I am from Trinidad.

Chris Fielden
Hi Rookmin. Well, there are loads of competitions listed on my website in the advice section.

I hope you find one that is suitable for your work - I wish you the best of luck with it.

Bibiana K
I just saw your website and have taken great interest in what you have to offer. I e-mailed you asking some questions about poetry and I do hope I will get a reply soon. Anyway, your works are great, thanks for the help thus far.

Chris Fielden
Hi Bibiana. Great stuff, glad you're finding the website interesting.

I have replied to your email :-)

I will add it here, for others to see, that I do not undertake proofreading / critique work free of charge. If anyone wants a critique of their short stories or poetry, they can find out more in the writing services section of my website.

Paul G
I've just come across this site and I have to say it's hit that sweet spot and created  a lot of excitement. Thank you.

Chris Fielden
No problem, Paul. Great to hear you like the site :-)