Wednesday, 30 January 2013


Wednesday word of the week is back! Today's word is redundant. It can mean superfluous or not needed, that which can be omitted without loss, or in my case having to leave the day job at the end of February (to show your sympathy feel free to email me chocolate, or buy my book.) On the plus side I'll have more time for writing and for travelling in the van which means more stories to submit and more photos to share here. Brace yourselves.

In writing it's those words or phrases which don't add anything to the story which are considered redundant.

For example, 'Mary sat down on the floor', or 'The snow fell on Wendy's bare limbs. She felt cold and then she shivered'.

It's been said that a picture can paint a thousand words. If that's true maybe it could make a whole story redundant. Are you artistic? If so, this competition to win a iPad might appeal.

Just in case you're wondering, the picture is to symbolise the possibility of one door opening as another closes.

Monday, 28 January 2013

The Answers

The answers to my quiz are ...

A) Romance / Chicklit. A Year and a Day by Patsy Collins.

B) Murder mystery. Appointment with Death. Agatha Christie.

C) The Hundred-Year-Old Man who climbed out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonnasson.

D) Thriller. City of Bones by Michael Connelly.

E) Romance The Call of Home by Teresa Ashby.

How many did you get right?

Now you've seen that just one sentence can get a reader thinking, you'll realise it's quite possible to tell a whole story in 100 words. Luckily I've found competitions for exactly that.

Becoming a finalist in this competition will get your story included in an anthology, an extract of your novel read by Curtis Brown creative (who'll provide written feedback) and the winner will be given a place on the Curtis Brown novel writing course.

The winner of this one gets £1,000. You'll have to allow RD to publish your entry even if you don't win, but I shan't let that deter me from having a go.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Getting started.

I seem to be playing opening line tag with Frances. Her post prompted me to invent a literary game (at least I think I've invented it.) I'm calling it 'guess the genre'. To play, just type in the opening line from a novel - the one you're currently reading or writing, or an old favourite. Then we can all try guessing the genre.

Here are a few to get you started. There all from books I've read recently and enjoyed.

A) Stella tried to ignore the aroma from the hotdog stand as she bounced along in time to the rock music blaring from the dodgems.   
B) "You do see, don't you, that she's got to be killed?"
C) You might think he could have made up his mind earlier, and been man enough to tell the others of his decision.
D) The old lady had changed her mind about dying but by then it was too late.
E) "Are you all right, Tam?" Cara's voice seemed to come from a long way away.

If you recognise the book you can still 'guess' the genre, but please don't give away the title just yet. I'll reveal them in a couple of days.

ps, if you use the opening line to one of your novels as your question, please give your question a number. Then email me with the number and a link to where the book can be bought and I'll include those in the answers.

Louise Wise is also running a competition connected with novel writing. For hers you are asked to write a 500 word short story, which could be a spin off from your novel. As a prize she's offering to buy and review your book and to feature you on her blog.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

It was a dark and stormy night ...

I expect many of you have read that famous opening line before, but do you know who wrote it? How about the novel's title? Maybe you've read it. If you'd like to you can download it for free here.

'It was a dark and stormy night' is often quoted as an example of a really bad opening line. Personally I don't think it's so bad. We can all come up with worse, can't we?

How about, 'All of a sudden, right out of the blue a really amazing thing happened.' or 'Fred woke up wondering where he was, what he was doing there and how the hell he was going to escape this time.'

Want your own life story turned into a book without having to even write the first line? I very much don't, but if it appeals to you, take a look here.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Getting about ...

No, I've not been away in the van again.

Which reminds me, I didn't post any pictures from that trip.

You may have thought you'd got away with it, but here they are!

 I have been visiting a few blogs though. I've just been at Sarah's (and here), before that I visited Monique and Barbara and on Monday I'll be over at Linda's.


Do you fancy being interviewed yourself? LInda and Sarah are both looking for authors to interrogate. (I'm kidding, they'll be gentle with you)

Which would you rather do, ask the questions or answer them?

Thank you so much to everyone who's already bought A Year and a Day, to those who've reviewed it and/or helped with the promotion. I really appreciate your support.

 Right, I'm off again - to try to find some more free to enter writing contests.

Friday, 18 January 2013


Remind me never again to offer poetry as a prize ... I've manouvered myself into having to write one about Rainbowmaker, which would have been bad even if she weren't a proper poet. She is, so I scoured the internet* in search of advice and found this -

There once were some rhymes they call limericks,
Repeated by smart men and dimwits,
They're easy to make,
A real piece of cake,
Until you get to the last line.

And then I set about creating Anne's, which goes like this ...

There once was a lovely lady called Anne
Who devised a rather wonderful plan,
to read in the nude
her poems so rude
(I hear Boris Johnson's now a big fan!)

Right, moving swiftly on, here's a poetry competition with a great prize - an Arvon course including travel. There's a twist to this one in that the title has to be a made up word. Reckon I could do that bit!

Hope everyone's coping with the snow. Remember don't risk being snowed in with nothing to read - panic buy my book now!

*well actually I just spotted it on Mike Francis's page and promptly stole it.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

The winner is ...

First of all, thank you so much to everyone who popped in to my launch day party. I really appreciate all the support! The party isn't over yet though, it's just moved to Barbara Hammond-Ford's bedroom! (Click here for some great publishing advice from Barbara)

I wrote out the names of everyone who commented yesterday and Gary picked two winners at random. Are you ready for me to reveal them? Really? Right, they are Rainbowmaker and Rosemary Gemmell! Congratulations, ladies. Please let me know your choice of prize - a pdf of A Year and A Day, a pdf of Paint Me a Picture, or for me to write a truly awful* limerick about you.

As a consolation to those who didn't win, pop over to Moniques's place. I've cooked up a batch of apricot florentine's for you. (It does tie in with the book, honestly)

The first crocus are out in my garden - spring must be on the way!

*That's not false modesty. It will be terrible.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Launch day!

This is the official launch party for A Year and a Day! I'm actually quite excited. Maybe I should do another happy dance? (Yes I know the picture shows an unopened bottle when we clearly have one on the go. This is called forward planning. If you look closely you'll see the condensation proving it's already chilled)

I'd hoped to celebrate by offering a free ecopy, but Amazon don't currently allow that. Instead I'm offering a pdf version of the book (which you'll be able to read on your computer) Gary will select one of the people who leave a comment below as the winner. If you're selected and have already bought A Year and a Day then you can choose a pdf of Paint Me a Picture instead. Or if you'd rather I'll write a (very bad, obviously) limerick for you.

A Year and a Day is available from Amazon.UK and If you are signed up for Amazon Prime then you can read it for free. (In case you wondered, writers do get paid if you use that service.)

What (apart from enjoying a few of Luigi's fabulous cocktails) do you think I should do to celebrate the launch?

Update I have a review here and here.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Coming soon ...

Tomorrow is official launch day for A Year and a Day! I hope you'll join me here to help celebrate.

To get you in the mood for romance, why not take a look here? As well as interviews with writers, there are regular book giveaways.

Fancy some help with writing your own novel or short story? The winner of this competition will receive a free Writer's Bureau course. You only need write the opening paragraph of a story to enter.

Here's a short story competition. I'm not sure what the prizes are, but apparently there'll be more than one.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

I did warn you ...

I gave you the chance to avoid this, but you just can't help some people ...

'Cat on the Keyboard'

prrrr prrr
feedm enow
feeOdm enow
prrr prrr prrrr prrrr
nyug ygur yugui uioj
fish fish fish fish fish
sal mon tunat rout cod
mack erelki ppersbream
meow nowfe edme now
pounce coefficient 11:1a
432a(x-y) 7i6y per s 756;km
;-) = prrrr prrrrrr prrrrrr
zzzzzzzzzzzzz prr
t a b b y i n a f l a p !
puss in boots kitten mittens
poor paws pause on purpose
e=mc² all greek 2 me ὃϕἁ ΣΛὀ
z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z

Friday, 11 January 2013

How's IT going, Pussycat?

How are your IT skills? Mine are rubbish. I'm sort of OK with the blog now and hopefully I've uploaded my book correctly and that'll work but everything I do involves a fair bit of snarling and angry key bashing. Maybe that's why I never feel poetic about IT? If only I could overcome that I could enter this competition for the chance to win $300 NZD.

What about cats? D'you like them? I do see how they could well be good subjects for poetry - even if the cat in question is Simon's rather than your own. I'm not sure there's a prize for the competition, but it might be fun to try anyway.

And how about the brilliant subtlety with which I've photographically combined these subjects? I hope you're liking that. (BTW, I've written a truly terrible poem entitled 'Cat on a Keyboard' and unless, by the time I get in from the day job on Sunday, I've had at least 20 posts begging me not to I'll be posting it!)

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

A Year and a Day

My new romance will be out soon. This one has a fortune teller, Italian restaurant owner and a policeman.

Imagine your perfect Italian hero and you're thinking about Luigi. He hates to see a girl go hungry, invents fabulous cocktails he insists his friends try and has a voice like Amaretto.

John's the policeman. He's not exactly the tall, dark handsome type and his jokes are terrible, but he has his good points.

Stella (a florist who's always hungry) and Daphne (a chef) have been friends forever. They've been getting each other into and out of scrapes for just as long. They seem to have little in common, except perhaps a liking for charming, generous and sexy Italian restaurant owners.

If you like love, flowers, food, policemen and sexy Italians and can withstand John's dodgy sense of humour, I think you'll like A Year and a Day.

It'll be for sale (as an ebook) from next Tuesday (at least, that's what the fortune teller told me.) To keep you occupied until then, here's a competition with a €10,000 prize.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Just some stuff

Fancy a huge advance from your self published novel? Apparently such a thing is possible for winners in this competition. I haven't got to grips with createspace yet - maybe I should take another look, especially as I'll be releasing a new novel soon - I wouldn't mind $50,000 or even $15,000.

An old competition has a new name. Whatever you call it, it's still a free to enter writing competition with a $50 prize each month.

I mentioned our Christmas camping trip, didn't I? Here's where we went on Boxing Day and this was our New Year's Day destination. Maybe that'll inspire you to enter something here and try for the $100 Visa card.

All that talk of dollars making you want something a bit more British? How about this poetry competition? There's no prize other than 'bragging rights' for publication on the site, but some of us writers like to brag a little (trust me, I'll be doing it the second I have something to brag about)

In case you were wondering if the picture was relevant in some way ... no, it isn't. It isn't even recent. Actually I can't remember when I took it, or why.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

It's going well so far ...

I haven't had a single reject this year and I have plenty of stuff out there which could be accepted at any minute. (And I'm included in the Best Of Cafelit 2012)

Hmmm, bit of an optimistic start for an Insecure Writer's Support Group post, isn't it? Well, I have a theory - that writers are all secretly optimistic (at least some of the time.)

When an idea occurs to us, we think that just maybe it'll make a good story, poem, play or whatever. We start writing, believing perhaps we can transform the random idea into a finished piece. We rewrite, edit and polish, hopeful our efforts will be worth reading. Then we (sometimes) get up the nerve to send it out. When we do that, some part of us believes there's a chance someone will think it's worth publishing on their site, in their magazine, turning into a book or a play. They might even pay us, or declare us the winner of their competition.

Of course our work might get rejected. Rejection is more common than acceptance for most of us. But then we'll get another idea and off we go again.

How are you feeling about your writing in 2013? Is there any optimism lurking beneath the doubts?