Saturday, 27 April 2013

Portsmouth City Council have ruined my book!

How could they do it?

In Paint Me a Picture I have several scenes set on the Round Tower in Portsmouth. When I wrote the book, the railings were tatty, steps worn, tarmac in a horrible state and the benches broken and uninviting.

'First though, would come the climb, onto the wall and over the dull silver safety rail. Once there, the worst would be over. She would choose a position where the outer rail was missing; very little remained of the rust pitted, blue painted metal. Mavis stood and walked to the wall. She imagined grasping the railing and hauling herself up. It would require effort, but she could manage. She could sit for a moment, longer if she wished, to compose herself.

 Then, she would slide forward, keep sliding forward until the solid grey stone, with its saggy wrapping of tarmac, was no longer beneath her. There would be the air and then the water and then nothing. Or perhaps she would stand? That might be better. She could stand right on the edge, poised neatly between life and death. She could stand, calmly waiting for the right moment and then step forward. Just one small step to the end she longed for. Or she could jump. She did not think she would jump. It did not matter; all that mattered was she climb and then fall. Then nothing would matter.'

Now just look at it! 

How could they? They're doing up the Square Tower too. It's not as though these places are important to me.

Of course the renovations haven't really ruined my book. Things change all the time and I'm sure if anyone were to read my book and realise the tower is now in better nick than I've described they'd guess why there's a discrepancy. 

Other writers might not be so lucky. Have you ever created, or read something that's really been ruined by changes that have taken place since it was written? 

If you've written a book that's not been ruined in this way you might be interested in this competition.

If anything you've written has been ruined in any way, you might want to plot the perfect murder and win themselves an Amazon voucher.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013


Today's word of the week is spandrel. It's the space between arches or between an arch and its frame.

I like arches. I like free to enter writing competitions too. Not ever so keen on this one as the only prize seems to be publication but maybe you're not as mercenary as me?

I'm over here with some thoughts on editing today ( if you get there before me you'll see some excellent advice from the lovely Sally Quilford instead.)

Wednesday, 17 April 2013


A tepal is an undifferentiated part of a perianth. 

You're welcome.

Oh, OK I'll go on. You know what a flower petal is. You may have noticed that sometimes behind the petals there are little green things. Those are sepals (or the calyx). 

Actually in some plants there are no petals, just sepals which look like petals but don't worry about that.

In other plants there are both petals and sepals but they all look like petals and it's impossible to tell petals from sepals. In this case all the pretty bits are called tepals to, you know, make things easier.

You probably want to get back to the writing after that. Here's somewhere looking for novels and novellas (thanks to Rachel for telling me about that one). And this site wants articles. I'm not sure they want to pay for them though.

Here's a crime writing competition. You'll have to pay postage, but otherwise entry is free. The prize is a weekend Bed and Breakfast at the Cremona Hotel, Bournemouth and £50 spending money. 

Now please excuse me, I have a novel excerpt and synopsis to work on.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Essence of Humour

This collection of 17 humorous stories is available now from - Smashwords, Alfie Dog, and I think you'll recognise several of the author's names.

Here's a short story competition with a £1,000 prize. It doesn't say humour is required, but as they want children's stories, it probably won't hurt.

Bingo is a funny subject for poetry you might think. Win this competition and you'll have £150 to laugh about.

Update The finalists of the 100 word story competition I mentioned in my last post were announced this afternoon.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Results round up

A few months ago I mentioned a free to enter (obviously) 100 word competition. The prize was publication of the story in a free e-anthology for 20 semi-finalists, feedback from Curtis Brown for the best three of those and a Curtis Brown novel writing course for the winner.  I, and around 1,000 others, had a go and I'm one of the semi finalists.

You can get your free copy here. (If you don't have a kobo you can download a free app and read it on your computer)

Prima were running a writing competition with a kobo as a prize (I was the March winner). They're now running one with £100 on offer for the best short story. Send your 800 words to

I also entered several competitions I've come nowhere in, but I'm keeping tactfully quiet about those.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Let Yourself Shine: Tips for Writing Competitions - Guest post by Natalie Charles

Not only does Natalie have some great advice to share - she's also giving away an ecopy of her book (which I've read and enjoyed). Just leave a comment to be in with a chance of winning. Over to you, Natalie ...

Thank you so much for having me today!

One question I get all the time is, "Do you think writing competitions are beneficial to aspiring writers?" My answer usually involves some kind of enthusiastic nod, because I've only entered one writing competition—Mills & Boon's 2011 New Voices—and winning it was how I got my big break. But the better answer is that I think the right kind of writing competition is beneficial to the right kind of aspiring writers, but that competitions are by no means necessary to success, as proven by the many writers who have achieved their dreams in other ways.

Seek out the right competitions for you. I entered New Voices because the Mills & Boon editors were judges, and my hope was to catch someone's attention. If you're looking for motivation to polish that first chapter, then by all means seek out whatever competition is going to give you that push. If, on the other hand, you're looking to use the competition as a step to publication, seek out competitions where the judging panel includes editors and agents. If you're lucky enough to get feedback, their feedback is worth the price of entry.

Competitions aren't for everyone. New Voices was a very public competition that allowed readers to leave comments for the entrants. I received many lovely comments, but I received some criticism, too, and not all of it was constructive. Before you enter a competition, be honest with yourself. If you are confident in your abilities and ready to withstand that kind of heat, then by all means, enter a competition. If unfair words may shake your confidence or tempt you to give up writing altogether, then maybe you're not ready to be judged in this manner.
The other advice I can give about competitions has to do with strategy. When I prepared my New Voices first chapter, I kept the following in mind:

The hook matters. Hooking a reader always matters, but if you're trying to stand out from other talented writers, you've got to step up your game. I ended my first chapter with my hero and heroine discovering that the heroine is the target of a killer who hunts his victims by leaving six signs over six days and killing on the seventh. My hope was that readers would want to read on to know what the signs were, and they did.
The tricky part is carrying this hook throughout a novel and making every page compelling. I've heard that every chapter should end by answering one question for the reader and raising two more, and that seems like sound advice to me.

Voice matters. You have something special in your style that is uniquely yours, and no matter how ordinary it may seem to you, I assure you that readers will love it. Forget about imitating your favorite writer and be your own, shiny self.

How do you think writers in competitions can best stand out from the crowd?

Natalie on the web: Website Facebook Twitter

The Seven Day Target

He never meant to speak to her again. Back in Arbor Falls for a funeral, Special Agent Nick Foster has moved on. He has no plans to stay in his tiny hometown-or to reunite with the beautiful Libby Andrews. His onetime fiancée broke his heart, and what's past should stay buried.

Libby doesn't want his help. Her childhood sweetheart can never know the real reason she ended their engagement three years before. But when a serial killer targets her, she must team up with the rugged agent for her own safety. Something in her past has put her in danger, and the passion they've reignited puts their future in deadly jeopardy.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

That time already?

It's time for another Insecure Writer's Support Group post.

So, at the end of my first month as a full time writer do I have masses of success to report? Ummm, let's move swiftly on to the competitions, shall we?

This competition is ideal for anyone feeling insecure about their writing as what's wanted is something really bad. (I tried last year, but apparently my worst isn't terrible enough, which I suppose I should be happy about.)

Can you write about wildlife or travel? If so, this might be of interest. The prizes are jolly interesting.

Here's a short story competition with the chance to win an £11 Amazon voucher (you could buy all my ebooks for that!) You only need write 250 words and there are two categories - for new and not so new writers.

This competition offers a prize including chocolate, book tokens, a mug and a pen. It's hard to think of a better selection of goodies to entice the average writer to get working ... or is it? What would you most like to win?