Wednesday, 31 December 2014


Subliminal actually means something usually below the level of known sensation or consciousness. It can be useful when advertising.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, 28 December 2014

2014 - 2015

This is the tradtional time for looking back over the previous year and looking forward to the next. I like a bit of tradition.

In 2013's end of year post I said I'd done fairly well, but could do better. The same thing is true this year.  2014 was my best writing year so far in terms of short stories written and sold. That's good, I'm pleased, but I could have worked harder and would probably have then seen even better results.

So, do I carry on as I have been and try to put in more effort - or is it time for a completely new strategy and approach? I have a few days to work that out. One thing's for sure, I'll be making good use of the mobile writing retreat.

How was your year - and what are your plans for 2015?

If you fancy a real challenge, how about writing something positive about the banking industry? If you can manage it, you might win £200 in this free competition.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

What does it represent?

I've seen loads of competitions offering agent representation for novel writers over the last few weeks. Here's another one (you have to register with the site to get the details, but it's free to do that).

I was under the impression that agents had so many prospective clients they could only skim through a fraction of the manuscripts submitted to them. Now it seems many are actively seeking more novels to read. Any idea what, if anything, has changed?

I don't think these figures are supposed to represent agents or authors, but for all I know they might. Anyone got a clue?

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Happy Christmas

Wishing you all a merry Christmas, season's greetings, happy birthday as appropriate - even if you're not celebrating anything, I hope you have a nice day.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014


A tiro (which can also be written as tyro) is a beginner or novice. Two or more are known as tiros.

I'm a tiro when it comes to wildlife photography, but fortunately this little bird hopped off instead of flying away, so I got some of it in focus. Anyone know what it is?

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Friday, 19 December 2014

Did you miss me?

Thanks to me being super organised and scheduling a few posts, you might not even have realised I've been a way, but I have. We've travelled to and around the Canary islands, then came back through a force ten! It was twelve days of eating, drinking and having a thoroughly good time researching story ideas. It's a tough life being a travelling writer. The highlight was a personal tour of La Palma by my friend Sheila which involved telescopes, tame ravens and volcanoes. There are pictures ...

My stories seem to like getting about a bit too, whilst I was away I had one accepted by a Swedish magazine (Don't be too impressed - I wrote it in English)

Wednesday, 17 December 2014


Libration is the apparent oscillation of a heavenly body (usually the moon) because the edges are coming in and out of view. I imagine it occurs more frequently after the viewer has taken a libation.

Hands up those who thought it involved drinking at the library. Oddly I didn't have a picture of me doing that, so here's one of me with The Sphere. Apparently he oscillates on windy days.

updated 18/12 - we're just back from a cruise. The ship very conveniently had a cocktail bar close to the library. I *may* have indulged ... It was for research though, obviously. Any minute I might need to describe the exacy taste of a White Lady, a Singapore Sling or a Brandy Alexander.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Smoothly does it

Flatiron are looking for sort story submissions, of 600 words for humour or 1,500 - 3,000 for anything else sci-fi, speculative or fantasy. They pay 3c per word  U.S.

We have an iron but I flatly refuse to use it. I can't do irony either, so here's some flat calm water instead.

update - is it irony that I scheduled this post before we went away and we spent yesterday sailing through a force ten?

Friday, 12 December 2014

Skimming stones

A place on a writing workshop at the Listovel festival is part of the prize in this short story competition. I'm not sure I'd be able to get to Ireland at the appropriate time if I won, but I like the prompt so much I think I'll enter anyway.

Here's where I'm setting my entry.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014


Nyctitropic is the movement, of plants, at night. Yep, daisies and cabbages are going to crawl out their beds and murder you in yours!

Nah, not really. This phenomenon is caused by changes in light or temperature. Usually it's no more alarming than leaves drooping or flowers opening at different times. For example mirabilis jalapa and nicotiana sylvestris flowers tend to be droopy in the daytime, but perk up in the evening and overnight. That's handy if you're pollinated by moths.

I admit it's not an easy word to drop into a story or casual conversation, but I'm sure you'll find a way.

Sorry ...

Sorry if you're seeing that annoying word verification thing. I have it switched off but it's still coming up, even for me at times. We're currently away (yes again!) so I probably won't be able to sort it out for a while.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Benefits of travel

Thanks to Alyson for telling me about this travel writing competition. There's £100 on offer for 600 words (fact or fiction) which would encourage people to visit a particular location.

If I were to cut and paste from recent blog posts I'm sure I could get together 600 words on the theme of 'visit Scotland, there are castles there'.

Talking of visiting Scotland, she says as if she'd actually stopped going on about it, I thought you might be interested in the stats from our trip*

Castles visied - 22
Islands visited - 3
Cathedrals and Abbeys - 4
Gardens - 5
Ferries photographed - 29
Lighthouses - 5
Others (stone circles, monuments, follies etc) -28
Bottles of wine drunk - all of them
Stories inspired by trip - 9 (so far I expect they'll be more)

* includes journey up and back

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

I'm not getting insecure about my insecurities ...

This month I'm a co host for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. My fellow co hosts supporting Ninja Captain Alex are E Solar, Heather and Tonja.  Do visit their blogs and if you're an insecure writer or someone who'd like to offer words of support, or both, then join us.

I wasn't feeling insecure until I started thinking about what to write in this post. As co host I felt it should be something really good. But then I saw how silly it was to feel insecure about it - that''s the complete opposite of the whole point of IWSG.

So, I'm going to give you links to free to enter writing competitions instead. I know how to do that as I do it all the time. You might find them useful. You might even win one of them and I bet that'd squish flat any insecurities you might have. Please let me know if you have success in any of the competitions I post about as I'd love to share your good news and prove people really do win.

Here's one to win coaching from a literary agent, the author of the winning short story in this short story competition will get a holiday, this novel one offers £1000 and agent representationt, and this one for a first crime novel offers and advance of $10,000.

 This is more of a publishing opportunity than a competition but there's cash on offer for flash fiction or poetry, if flash is your thing then you might also like this one (thanks to Sheila for telling me about it) for stories of 20 - 40 words, or this one with a book as the prize, or this one which offers 25 books.  This one's for longer short stories and offers workshops amongst the prizes. Another short story competition has a £50 prize, yet another offers $50 Amazon voucher each month.

I hope there's something to tempt you amongst that lot, but if not maybe there will be in my next post, or the one after ...

Oh and if you haven't already downloaded my short story collection, you might like to know it's free again. US link UK Link

Tuesday, 2 December 2014


Yes, I know it's November, but May is the theme of this short story competition that you may wish to enter (see what I did there?) You may not want to bother reading all the t&cs but I think you should. There's a bit about copyright that I think might just refer to the winner. I'm trying to find out.

The prize is a week's holiday in a Duchy of Cornwall manor house which sleeps up to eight. Make a good writing retreat, wouldn't it?

Here's a picture taken in my garden this May. It may, or may not, inspire you.