Monday, 31 December 2012

Happy New Year!

2012 was a brilliant year for me - I got married and had my first novel published, stuff like that. I hope at least parts of it were good for you too.

I don't know what this year will bring, but I'm fairly sure it will include writing. It better do as I've signed up for write1sub1 again. Want to join me? All you have to do is try to write and submit at least one piece of work each week or month. In 2012 I wrote 48 new pieces. I'm hoping to better that this year.

I'll be releasing another romance novel soon, hopefully writing another and I'm planning to maker much more effort with the competitions. Should keep me busy.

My final resolution is to review or at least rate all the books I read from now on (on Amazon and Goodreads). As a writer I really appreciate it when anyone leaves a review for my work and as a reader I often find reviews helpful.

Do you make resolutions and/or set yourself goals?

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Just a few quickies ..

... before we're off again (we'll be starting the New Year as we mean to go on - in the van!)

There's one snowdrop out in the garden - spring is on the way!

Found a paying market for dark fantasy, horror and speculative fiction. Not genres I usually write, but those who do might like to take a look here.

If haiku is more your thing, then this might appeal.

I may have mentioned this short story competition before, but the prize is so good, I don't want anyone to miss it.

And for readers, here's a short story of mine you can read for free. Also Escape to the Country is free to download today. (US link)

What are your plans for seeing in the New Year?

Friday, 28 December 2012

After the party

We've just got back from our Christmas camping adventure and it looks like someone  had a party in our absence! (If he thinks getting his little friends to climb the tree and pretend to be baubles is going to fool me he can think again.)

We had a lovely time. Our Christmas meal was a Bangladeshi feast in my favourite restaurant (not sure if it's a good or a bad thing my fave eating place is 150 miles away) As our main course came out a waiter brought extra chairs to our table. These were to hold some of the side dishes that wouldn't fit on the table but if they'd been for extra people to help us eat it, we'd still have had plenty.

My lovely Gary gave me a kindle paperwhite and I also got some money so I'll be able to buy books for it ... which do you suggest?

If you're looking for something to download yourself, then Not a Drop to Drink is free from Smashwords, or you could buy Paint Me a Picture, Escape to the Country or one of my short stories from Alfie Dog.

Teresa is giving away a collection of short stories (and if you visit her blog for details of how you can help a horse sanctuary for free)

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Happy Christmas!

(The image is by Gary)

I hope you all enjoy Christmas, that you get to see or speak/write to people you love, eat and drink a few tasty goodies, have fun, stay safe and sneak in some reading time.

I hope too that you hear really terrible festive jokes and share them with me. (Good ones are allowed too) Here are a few to set the tone ...

One snowman says to the other 'Can you smell carrots?".

Q. What's Good King Wenceslas' favourite pizza?
A. Deep pan, crisp and even.

Santa asked Mrs Claus what the weather forecast was for Christmas Eve. She said, "It looks like reindeer."

Friday, 21 December 2012

Happy Winter Solstice

It's the shortest day today - which means from now on there's increasingly more daylight and spring is on the way. That's reason enough to celebrate the winter solstice and post a picture of my druid, I reckon.

If you can come up with a short story on the theme of Freedom you could win yourself £500 and a place on an Arvon course in this competition. I'll definitely be giving it a go.

It's minutes since I last plugged my free short story collection, Not a Drop to Drink, so I'll mention it again now so it's in the minds of anyone who gets an ereader for Christmas and wants to try it out. (If you don't think you'll get one, try this competition to win £1,000 of vouchers to buy techie stuff)

Anyone going wassailing tonight?

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Yet more free stuff.

If you write sci-fi or fantasy then this competition could win you up to $6,000. The same amount is on offer for illustrators. You won't earn so much for this one, but the winner will be paid and there's a trophy.

Can't remember if I mentioned this before (but better twice than not at all) $500 prize and a trophy.

Not a competition as such (but submitting anywhere is a competitive business) this is a paying market you might like to try.

Winning one of these books might be useful for research or just for procrastination.

Jinx Schwartz's the Texicans is free 20th - 22nd December.

Monday, 17 December 2012


Jane has kindly nominated me for The Very Inspiring Blog Award. Thanks, Jane! I do hope my blog inspires people to have a go at competitions.

I'm supposed to tell you 7 random things about me. I'm usually good at random, but this time I'm going to stick to the theme and tell you about 7 ways I find inspiration for my writing.

1. Competitions. Many have a theme and that helps me come up with a story idea. This one for example asks 'what needs to change?' That question could provide plenty of story ideas. There's also a £200 prize, which brings me on to ...

2. Success. If I sell a story or get placed in a competition I find that for the next few days story ideas seem to flow much more easily.

3. Deadlines. If it has to be done soon, I do it. If the competition doesn't close for months, like this one, I'll probably leave it until it's too late.

4. Eavesdropping. OK, I can't point to an actual published story inspired in this way, but I'm very nosey and pretending I'm listening in strictly for research makes me feel better.

5. Reading. Obviously you can't copy other people's stuff, but their work might give you an idea or two. eg I read a poem of Seaview's which prompted me to write a short story.

6. Cake. I don't think any explanation is needed.

7. Experience. I've had a wide range of jobs, met a lot of interesting people, have tried lots of hobbies and often use tiny details of my own life to prompt a story.

I'm passing this on to -

Tracy, Womag, Wendy, Frances, Della, Rachel, Marion, Vikki, Lizy, Gary, Suzy, Rosemary, Deborah, Anne and Amanda,

Finally thanks to Rosemary for another star on my blog of the year award.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Even more free stuff.

Guess what we're doing over Christmas. This competition might give you a clue - and even better the chance to win a $100 gift card.

Is crime your thing? Writing it I mean. If so, you might like to have a go at this competition. The prize package looks jolly interesting.

If you get involved with the Telegraph short story club you could win yourself £500.

For the readers (which I'm sure includes anyone who's ever stumbled across this blog) I have a couple of giveaways. Olga Miret's book, Cannon Fodder (US link) will be free to download from 14th to 16th December and Genevieve Heaston is doing a give away on Goodreads (the site always has plenty of chances to get hold of free 'real' books)

And The lovely Keith has given me another star to ad to my blog of the year award. Thank you so much, Keith.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

More Free stuff

Erewash writers have got a couple of free to enter writing competitions for 2013. This one is for flash fiction on the theme of 'start'. The second is for a short story with the theme of 'Full Stop'. There are also paid for competitions listed on the site.

You can see the results from this year's free entry competitions here. (I was shortlisted in the twins one)

Here's an ongoing contest with a $50 prize each month. The current theme is 'Artist's Choice'.

Poets might like to try here or here or even here for a chance to win £100 (actually that last one also includes a competition with a £1,000 prize)

Do you know how to do something? Can you explain it in 300 - 500 words? If so you might be able to earn yourself £100.

If you live in the US, pop along to Clarissa's blog as she's giving away real books.

I have a short piece up on Cafelit which I wrote for an exercise in my writer's group. You can read it, for free, here.

And thanks to Teresa who has awarded me a star to add to my blog of the year award. It's looking really sparkly now.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Free stuff

Get yourself a free copy of And the Stars Will Sing by Michelle Brown (US link)

If you've ever had trouble with timelines in your story (some people having three birthdays a year, others never aging, the Battle of Trafalgar falling between the two world wars, children born before their parents met) then Wendy has something that might help.

Here's a free to enter writing competition that could win you £10,000 (if you can write fast and have a good idea to combat youth unemployment)

Write a wintery poem and you win a £100 Amazon voucher.

I've got another star for my blog of the year award from Charlie Britten. Thanks, Charlie!

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Starry starry blog

The lovely Vikki has nominated me for the 2012 blog of the year! Thank you, Vikki.
The rules for this are - 
"1 Select the blog(s) you think deserve the ‘Blog of the Year 2012′ Award
2 Write a blog post and tell us about the blog(s) you have chosen — and ‘present’ them with their award.
3 Please include a link back to this page ‘Blog of the Year 2012′ Award —  and include these ‘rules’ in your post (please don’t alter the rules or the badges!)
4 Let the blog(s) you have chosen know that you have given them this award and share the ‘rules’ with them.
5 You can now also join the Facebook group.
6 As a winner of the award — please add a link back to the blog that presented you with the award — and then proudly display the award on your blog and sidebar … and start collecting stars… Unlike other awards which you can only add to your blog once — this award is different!
When you begin you will receive the ’1 star’ award — and every time you are given the award by another blog — you can add another star! There are a total of 6 stars to collect."
I'm passing this on to -

Teresa Lovely short story writer who shares pictures of Indy. (not the reason for the award, but if you comment on this post, you could win a book)

Hilary I learn something new from every post.

Alex The awesome ninja Captain and champion of all insecure writers.

Write 1 sub 1 They're encouragement has helped a lot with my short story output and inspired many other writers to get their stuff out there.

Vikki She's learning so much about writing and sharing the best tips with us plus she's just so nice. (If I've understood the rules correctly it's OK for me to award her a star)

Friday, 7 December 2012

And the winners were ...

I'm always on about free to enter writing competitions and although I'm going to keep on giving you links for those, I thought you might like to hear about a few winners for a change. 

Mandy Shearing, Katie L Thompson, Gretchen Elhassini and myself have all won the same competition in different months. It was run by Creative Print Publishing (and mentioned on my blog when entries were open). The prize for each of us was a publishing contract. I take credit for telling Mandy about the competition, but the other two found it before I did.

Tell us about your book.
Katie - DYING TO LIVE (US link) is a romantic novella about Alicia’s journey to freedom. Alicia is married to a man who abuses her but a potentially fatal incident changes Alicia’s life for the better.
Gretchen - THE LINCOLN LETTER (US link), Historical Conspiracy.  This book was inspired by Dan Brown. I enjoyed the Da Vinci Code and wanted to bring the story back to America, to explore some piece from our past that could potentially affect the future.
Mandy - TRANSMISSION OF EVIL (US link)is a supernatural thriller based in a quiet village on the South Coast where an archaeological dig unearths something far more sinister than pottery when a perfectly preserved body is discovered. The circumstances of this long-ago death and the nearby siting of a communications mast provide a conduit for an ancient evil that seeks the weakest, most corrupted mind in the village to continue its work.
I've always been fascinated by the supernatural and I'd love to think that reverberations from our lives survive to be felt by future generations, although hopefully not with such tragic consequences as I've written about in Transmission of Evil!
Patsy - ESCAPE TO THE COUNTRY. (US link) Lighthearted crime/romance. It was inspired by the years I spent on a farm and my love of food and wine!

How did you feel when you learned your book would be published?
For a long time I didn’t believe it was true and I didn’t tell anyone in case it turned out to be a con. It wasn’t until the paper book came through the post that it suddenly hit me, I’m an author. It was amazing.
It was the most amazing feeling.  I couldn’t believe the email I received, and I still remember it: “your well written book has been chosen as the winner.”  Fantastic.
After reading the email telling me my book was to be published, I think I finally managed to stop grinning about a week later! It had always been an ambition of mine to see my name on the cover of a real printed book and, when my copy arrived, I still couldn't quite believe it. Even now, if I'm feeling a bit low I prop my book up and stare at my name on the cover (yes, I probably do need to get out more, but I don't care!)
What's the most exciting, fun or odd thing you've done to promote your book?
I did a two day book signing in November but the most exciting thing had to be the book signing at Waterstones. I’d never even dreamt of doing a book signing at Waterstones and I got to meet lots of lovely people. I’d never imagined that so many people would be interested in my book.
I went to a Civil War Reenactment dressed up in 1860s hoop skirts to sell the book.                                 I was lucky that my boss at the time was quite forceful and I was amazed how many people I'd never met came up to me at work and said she'd "advised" them to buy a copy! Promotion with menaces - works every time!
I've done a series of radio interviews and also taken bookmarks to a talk in the library and left them on people's seats.

What difference, if any, has becoming a published novelist made to you?
Before becoming a published novelist I’d write books but never finish them because I didn’t really see the point but since ‘Dying to Live’ was published I’ve become a lot more confident in my ability to write. It’s given me the incentive to finish writing books and given me the courage to self-publish. I’m one of those people that write because if I don’t I go crazy.
It hasn’t made as big a difference as I thought it would have. Of course I imagined myself being a New York Times bestseller with the first novel and that hasn’t happened.  I’m plugging away though, trying new things, pushing frontiers.
I feel more confident in my writing now. Before, I wrote because I personally enjoyed my stories but I had no idea whether "real" readers would like them. Now, I can point to my book and say that my work is out there and people have enjoyed it. That's a feeling worth more than gold. Although it's also a bit weird to be discussing characters and events that previously existed only inside my head!
Like the others, I think it's increased my confidence in my writing. It's great to have a book with my name on the cover, but I've not yet given up the day job.

Are you writing anything now?
I’m writing many things at the moment including several romance books, ‘Cameron’ and ‘Kelly’ (sequels to ‘Daisy’) and a variety of short erotic romance stories.
I have about 3 novels that are part way done.  I’m shopping my latest finished product around to agents in the hopes of securing representation.  I also just “sold” a screenplay and am busy writing character backgrounds for the producer.  And due to the success of selling the first screenplay, I started working on another.
I am writing a sequel to Transmission of Evil at the moment but as I killed off some of my favourite characters in the first book, I'm introducing a few more. Whether they survive for yet another story in the series though, is still to be decided....!
I'm always writing something. Currently I'm working on the last edits of A YEAR AND A DAY, which will hopefully be published next year.

Where can we learn more about you?
Katie's blog is here and this is her facebook page.
Mandy is on twitter @MandyShearring
Gretchen's blog is here.
Here's my facebook page.

Coming soon ... lots more free to enter writing competitions and hopefully lots more winners amongst my writing friends.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

That time again!

Yes, it's the first Wednesday of the month. Where does the time go? I'm not feeling insecure particularly, it's lack of writing time which is bothering me most right now. Oh well, I don't suppose I'm alone in wishing I had more time for the things I want to do.

I will find time to visit the blogs of some other members of the Insecure Writer's Support Group though.

How about you? Are you finding time for everything you want to do, or not even making headway on the stuff that's got to be done?

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Free reads

Some of my writing friends have had work published recently and you can read it for free.

Here's issue 2 of Running Out of Ink. It's well worth a read. (If you'd like to submit to this publication, take a look here)

Haiku queen Marion has poetry in this collection.

Pop over to Rob Crompton's blog for details of his free offer for Bunderlin.

And Not a Drop to Drink is still free. (While you're there check out the lovely review from Fiona)
UPDATE - Fiona is currently offering her NaNo book for free too! You'll need to enter coupon code UR24H when you 'buy' it.

Do you have work in those publications? Somewhere else you want to give a link for?

Made any online reading finds we should know about?

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Feeling lucky?

Thank you so much to everyone who downloaded my book and/or helped with the promotion. Escape to the Country reached #119  in the UK free download chart and #951 in the US. Most importantly it's reached 100s of new readers and helped publicise my writing. I'm lucky to have so much great support - your help has made a huge difference.

Talking of luck, over the last few days I've had stories accepted by The Weekly News, Woman's Weekly and Alfie Dog. I've also been longlisted in a short story competition. Had some of the less good sort too - the publisher who expressed an interest in one of my novels hasn't accepted it. Oh well.

Here's a free poetry competition. There's still time to enter the Commonwealth short story competition too. The prize is £5,000 and it's free to enter so, assuming you're part of the commonwealth, it'd be daft not to email them something.

Fancy a free copy of the latest James Patterson audio novel? Or how about a $100 Amazon certificate? (I've contacted the author and UK likes will count)

Hopefully one of my blog friends will have good luck with one of those - that's if you believe in luck?