Monday, 25 September 2017

Do something nice

Thanks to Gail Aldwin for alerting me about this competition.

Publication and a £100 prize are on offer for the best 500 word story with a joyful or uplifting theme. They want stories of positivity, hope and living life to the full. 

There's no entry fee, but the competition is being run to spread awareness of blood stem cell donations (did you know you could donate stem cells?)

Entrants are asked to do one of several things before entering, such as registering as a donor, making a cash donation or doing a good deed.

I have a request. Even if you don't plan to enter, see if you can do a good deed today. Doesn't have to be much, just a gesture which makes someone else smile.

The photos are of Scarista beach (Harris, Outer Hebrides) - a joyfully uplifting place to visit.

Friday, 22 September 2017

Crossing the Tees

For this competition you're asked to write about crossing the Tees. Not in a dotting an i way, or traipsing over a golf course manner, but actually crossing the Tees. The prize is £100.

I haven't been to that area of the country, which is a drawback in writing about it. That's also a disadvantage when it comes to finding a suitable photo for this post. Which is why there isn't one and instead I've given you a photo of an early protype for Stonehenge.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017


A tee-hee is a titter, or restrained laugh. If you laugh in this way, you'll have tee-heed.

The site of this gull standing on tiptoes to look over a rock, gave me the tee-hees.

Come on, write something in the comments to get me tee-heeing.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Cafe stories

Comma press are running a short story competition with a £500 prize. The rules are slightly complicated, so read them carefully – as you always should for any competition! (details are in the second item on the link.)

Entries must be between 2,000 and 6,000 words and fit the theme of cafe stories.

Imagine having £500 to spend in a cafe! I'd buy tea and cake for my writing buddies. Who would you invite and/or what would you order?

Friday, 15 September 2017

Be quick!

There are only a couple of days to enter this competition. That's not the reason I'm giving it a miss though – they want writers to tell them a true story about a former love. True? I don't think so.

If you're happy to kiss and tell, and can make a good job of it in 700 words, you could win $100.

Here's Gary ... I was going to say he's my current love, but that sounds as though I'm planning to trade him in sometime, and I'm not. I could tell you some stories about him, but I'm not going to do that either.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017


Bordure is a heraldic term and refers to the border around a shield.

I don't seem to have a photograph of a bordure. Clearly I need to visit a lot more castles.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Coining it in

For this competition you're asked to write a short story (1,000 to 2,000 words) on the theme of coins.

The prize is £200, which is quite a lot of pennies. UK entrants only for this one.

I know you know what coins are, but I thought it would make a change to use a photo which wasn't from one of our campervan trips.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Race the whale, Honey

Helen Yendall is running another of her free, fun flash fiction competitions. There are Amazon vouchers and glory to be had!

Friday, 8 September 2017

Big cash prize

The Sunday Times are again running their short story competition. Entry is free and the prize is £30,000. Anyone over 18 can enter, as long as they have a track record of being published in the UK.

If I won £30,000 I'd spend it swanning around in the campervan. I know I do that quite a bit anyway, but with that kind of cash we could get the van to somewhere sunny for the winter - and buy much more cake, and wine which wasn't on special offer. (Not that I'm complaining about my current lifestyle - I'm very lucky to travel as much as I do.)

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

I hate marketing!

OK, maybe 'hate' is a bit strong, but I really don't like it.

Marketing takes up time which I'd rather spend writing, or going out in the campervan, being with my lovely husband, or writing in
the campervan, or taking photos, or eating yummy food ... But that's sort of OK. I understand that if I want to sell books I must do some promotion – and I do want my books to sell.

A major problem for me is that I don't know what works and what doesn't. If I mention in this post that I released a collection of 25 slightly spooky stories this week, and I get sales over the next few days, will that be because of the mention? Or due to the fact I announced it on twitter? Or Goodreads? Put a new page on my website? Due to one of my other marketing attempts? Or just because I've released a book and people magically know? (It's not that last one, is it?)

The other issue I have is not wanting to annoy people. I don't like reading constant 'buy my book' posts on social media, so it doesn't seem right to subject others to a bombardment. I really would hate friends to feel under pressure to buy my books, especially if they're not in a genre they enjoy ... but I don't want anyone to be unaware of new titles if they would like to read them.

And another thing ... It's not just a one off. I have a new novel coming out soon (a romance about photographers, which is set in a campervan and involves yummy food) and I'm working on more short story collections and another novel, and I still hope to sell more copies of my previous releases.

Marketing – that's my current, and no doubt ongoing, writing related insecurity. Maybe you share it? Perhaps you can offer help or advice (please!) You might even like to join the Insecure Writer's Support Group.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Something to aspire too.

Thanks to Gail Aldwin for alerting me about a competition - especially as it gives me a chance to post some of my pictures of Salisbury Cathedral from the time I climbed up inside the tower.

A spire, see? Oh, never mind ...

The free to enter competition is for short stories of up to 500 words. There are children's and an adult categories. UK residents only. 

The adult prize is publication and a writing course valued at £495. The runner up gets the same.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

The dark side.

If you can write a short (up to 7,500 words) crime or thriller story, you may be interested in this competition. The best 12 entries will be published in a collection from which the authors will earn royalties. As usual, with the competitions I blog about, it's free to enter. 

Not sure anything I write will be dark enough, but I intend to have a go. 

Friday, 1 September 2017

Catching up

I'm back from our trip to Scotland and the Outer Hebrides and trying to catch up with anything I've missed.
I'm not sure if I've already shared a link to this poetry competition, but as there's still time to have a go, I decided twice was better than not at all.

Anyone can enter and there's a cash prize. The first entry is free – you can send more poems, but that'll cost you.

I'm also sorting through the many, many photos I've taken over the last couple of months. Here are a few which I thought might work as writing prompts. Do let me know if you use them.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017


Audible means capable of being heard. If something happens audibly, that means it's audible. When a sound is indistinct, or simply not loud enough, you might complain about its audibility (creators of TV dramas don't seem to care about the audibleness of their product).

Audible is also an Amazon salesline, which enables subscribers to listen to a huge range of audio books for a monthly fee. They're currently offering a free trial.

From Story Idea to Reader is now available as an audio book (see my last post for more info) so if you'd like an audible version of the writing advice offered by myself and Rosemary J Kind, sign up now!

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Listen and learn

I'm delighted that From Story Idea to Reader, the accessible guide to writing fiction co-written by myself and Rosemary J. Kind is now available in an audio version. As Rosemary had all the hard work of organising this, it seemed only fair to give her the additional task of telling you about it...

Getting From Story Idea to Reader published as an audio book seemed the natural next step for what is proving a very popular book. Originally, we had seen it as being primarily for the UK market, but from the responses we’ve had from around the world, the style and writing advice are proving useful for a very wide audience.

When you’re putting an audio book together the first challenge is to find the right voice to record the book. Patsy and I did consider reading it ourselves, but rapidly concluded there were others out there far better qualified in that field. Charles W Hall, who narrates the book, has a lovely warm and expressive voice that is a perfect fit with our accessible writing style. He is American and we have had to explain the English pronunciation of some place names that we take for granted, but we’re very happy with the end result. Trying to explain how we say places like Peterborough and Swanwick that to me are obvious, did make me wonder how many American place names I might be mispronouncing!

For me, the funniest part of listening to someone else reading the book was the number of times I would suddenly think ‘That’s a good point’ almost as though it had been written by somebody else. I think the lesson in that is that as a writer it does no harm at all to refresh your knowledge at intervals and think about your writing. Although in reality the line that hit me hardest was one of Patsy’s in which she gives you permission to get up from your desk every once in a while and go and do something else. I think we can all be guilty of spending too long trying to concentrate when in fact taking some time away from our work might do us more good.

We have a limited number of codes for free copies if you would like to review the book on Audible. They are available on a first come first served basis for those who're willing and able to this relatively soon. If you are interested then email me at with ‘Audio Review’ in the title field.
From Story Idea to Reader is also available in paperback (£9.99) and ebook (£3.99) versions.

Monday, 28 August 2017

Best bank holiday reading?

It's a bank holiday and the weather isn't dreadful – I think I'll celebrate by sitting in the garden with a book. 

Which book do you think would make a perfect bank holiday garden read – and why? (Feel free to mention one of your own and add an Amazon link.)

I'll start off with Firestarter. It's romantic, fun, lots of it is set outdoors and there's plenty of yummy food and drink. And there's a hunky fireman. More than one, actually.

Mac Wheeler suggested Expiring Covenant.

Frances mentioned a selection, including  Basic Theology for Fallen Women.

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Want to earn $200 per word?

It really is possible to get $200 per word ... but only for the lucky winner of this flash fiction competition and then only for 100 words. Still that's $20,000 and it's free to enter.

"This contest is open to writers from all countries and entries are accepted in four languages: English, Spanish, Arabic and Hebrew. The slogan for the 2017 contest is ‘The Word, bridging the gap between different cultures and religion’ but there are no subject or genre restrictions. All stories entered must be original and unpublished."

Thanks to Lindsay Bamfield for telling me about it.

Do you recognise this bridge? How about the one right behind it?

Friday, 25 August 2017

Cafe lit - call for subs

Cafe lit are looking for more short story submissions. (There's no deadline - this is an ongoing project.)

"Just a quick heads-up to say that we're looking for more stories.
We're also accepting themed stories - autumn, end of summer, Halloween, 5 November, Christmas. 
So get writing and invite all of your writing friends. We look forward to your submissions."

Accepted stories are published here and may be selected for an anthology - if these sell enough copies there's the possibility of earning royalties, but if making money is your only aim, this isn't the site for you.

You can send up to 3,000 words, but very short pieces are also considered. You may, if you wish, attach a short bio to be published with your story.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Bad, good and better

There's not long to enter this travel writing competition, as it closes on 7th September (bad) - but the prize sounds nice and it's free to have a go (good).

The best thing about it though, is that it provides me with a marvellous excuse to post photos from my trip (better).

Wednesday, 23 August 2017


To swoop often means moving easily and rapidly through the aiir. Swoop is a word generally used in conjunction with another. When followed by down, it means to dive or drop at speed, like a bird of prey. If swoop is followed by on, it implies making a sudden attack from a distance. Swoop up means to snatch everything in one go.

During my trip to Wales earlier this year, I watched choughs swooping through the air - just as my character Alice does in Firestarter. (I'll keep any similarities between our trip and the next chapter in the novel to myself!)

Friday, 18 August 2017

Will you boost the prize?

Thanks to Beatrice Charles for sending me the details of this blogging/essay competition. There's a top prize of up to $2500 for a 600 to 1500 piece on the following topics -

  1. "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln. Do you agree?
  2. "Nobody realises that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal." - Camus. Discuss.
  3. Should the role of education be to prepare students for working life, or to broaden their mind?
  4. "No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally - and often far more worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond." - C.S. Lewis. Discuss

Beatrice says, 'There are categories also for child and YA writers. In particular they seem to encourage schools to enter. If numbers allow then they will match prizes to school or educational charity (although in previous years this hasn't happened as far as I can tell).

Prizes vary according to number of entrants. So the adult prize is between $250 -$2500

It may interest some of your contacts, and the more who enter the better the awards.'

I'm not sure I'll enter the competition, but the topics would also make great fiction prompts.

The photo shows me facing no kind of adversity, putting no effort into doing what's become normal for me lately... Oh dear, that isn't helping establish a link. Thank goodness for C.S. Lewis - I'm fifty and I read books. Phew!

Wednesday, 16 August 2017


A lodestar is a star used to help navigate at sea. It's usually the polestar, but not neccesarily. It can also be a guiding principle, or object of pursuit.

A lode is a vein of metal ore. Presumably some lodestars have lodes. Perhaps even loads of them.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Still travelling

I'm still away having fun editing and researching really hard, in remote locations. I'll be back in the land of lots of wi-fi soon and will be back to replying to your comments and reading other people's blogs soon, I promise.

 And almost certainly sharing lots more pictures from the trip.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017


An engram might not be an actual thing but if it is, it's a memory-trace – a permanent change in the brain which would account for the existence on memory.

I have lots of great memories and this photo represents many of them - they're some of the flowers from our wedding. They were grown in our garden and delivered to the venue in our campervan to an event shared with friends and family.

Obviously there was cake involved and I even signed a copy of my first novel which was released earlier that year. Oh, and my dress was purple.

What do you think? Do the things we experience physically change our brains in some way?

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

What helps?

The Insecure Writer's Support Group is great at making writers realise they're not alone with their insecurities – and for offering help and support.

I'm wondering, what's the most supportive thing that's ever been done or said to you with regard your writing?

For me, it was when Gary and I were discussing what should go on our wedding certificate for our occupations. Although I had a day job at the time, he suggested writer.

Monday, 31 July 2017

Off the radar

Apologies for the lack of response to your comments recently – internet access is very limited in the Outer Hebrides. We're managing to find things to do offline though!