Saturday, 27 May 2017

Pays to be early

Here's a travel writing competition with a $200 first prize. It's free to enter, but only if you submit by 31st May. If you want another couple of months to work on your piece, you'll have to pay an entry fee.

You may include up to three photos - which I'm taking as permission to do the same thing.

 If you're wondering about the location, here's a clue - walk carefully past the dragons.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Waxing lyrical

Here's a poetry competition with a £40 prize for the winner and another £40 for the top UK poet (if these are the same person, they'll get £80 and there will then be a £10 second prize.) That double incentive has encouraged me to have a go.

The first entry is free. You can submit up to two more poems, but if you do then you'll need to pay an entry fee.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017


Correctitude means correctness and especially concise correctness of conduct. That's a pleasingly alliterative phrase, but not somehing I feel able to demonstrate photographically. Or at all.

Oh look - a squirrel!

Sunday, 21 May 2017


I'm in Wales conducting novel research.

It's a tough job being a writer.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Wednesday, 17 May 2017


A few days ago I mistyped the word entertainment as entrainment. No wiggly red line appeared underneath, so I realised it was an actual word. One I didn't know. As I'm just a little odd, I was rather pleased with that ... until I looked it up.

It means to get on a train. Why that should disappoint me I can't really say.

Entrain can also mean to drag along, or when applied to a fluid, to carry particles along in its flow. Eg The tea leaves were entrained from the pot into the cup.

Oh! I've just cheered myself up by remembering I took a photo (OK lots) of a steam train in Scotland. Three points if you can name it.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Happy birthday!

No, it's not my birthday, but that of Alfie Dog Fiction. Don't let that stop you sending me cake though, as I was their very first author, so it's an anniversary for me too.

To celebrate their first five years, Alfie Dog are having an online party (You're all invited!) They will also be running special features, offering discounted stories and giving away books. News of all these things will be posted on the website and on social media.

The photo shows Wilma (a friend of Alfie Dog's) myself and Rosemary J Kind. Between us, Rosemary and I wrote Alfie Dog Fiction's first ever non fiction book. (It's about writing fiction, so it does make sense for the company to publish it – honest.)

Will you be joining in the Alfie Dog celebrations?

Friday, 12 May 2017

Cafe Culture

Thanks to Alyson for sending me details of this free entry short story competition. The prize is £500 and you have until the end of October to come up with a submission.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017


Doesn't supermundane sound soooo boring? Actually it means out of this world or superior to earthly things. And that makes it jolly difficult to illustrate.

This is Arbroath Abbey. We enjoyed our visit there very much - definitely closer to super than to mundane.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

A short break

For the last few weeks, most of my writing time has been taken up with editing Leave Nothing But Footprints, a romance about photographers, which is set in a campervan. (No doubt I'll still get asked where I get my ideas from!)

The current draft is now complete. I'm going to celebrate with a walk along the beach, then work on short stories for a while, before going back for what I hope will be the final edit.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Are you really a failure?

Do you feel like a failure each time a piece of writing gets rejected or fails to be placed in a competition? You're not alone if so and that attitude is perfectly understandable ... but it's not the only way to look at things.

If you wrote something which matched the publisher/editor/judge's requirements in terms of word count, subject and layout, finished it to the best of your ability and sent it in (before any deadline) that's an achievement in itself and you should be proud of yourself. (If you didn't do all those things, there's a jolly good reason your piece wasn't accepted and you can put it right for next time.)

Have you been published or placed in a competition before? If you have there's no reason for that not to happen again. Keep trying.

Maybe you feel you've not yet had any success. Are you sure? No stories have been long listed? No busy editor thought your writing so good they took the time and trouble to send you something other than a standard rejection letter? Look at, or think back to, your earliest writing. Have you improved since then? Those things prove you're on the right track. Keep going.

Are you reading, learning and writing regularly? If you are, you're doing what just about every writer did before their first success - and keeps on doing. Don't quit.

The Insecure Writer's Support Group post on the first Wednesday of each month. It exists to ... well, I think you can work it out. All writers are welcome to join.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Book deal!

A quick reminder about this novel writing competition. There's a £20,000 book deal on offer for the winner - but not long left to enter and you have to be a UK author, not currently represented by an agent, to be eligible.
In case you're thinking there's no point entering these things, I'd like to tell you a short, true story... I once won a novel writing competition. The prize wasn't so good and the company running no longer exists (the book does), but I got to do a book signing in Waterstones, picked up some royalties and it kick started my writing career.

Someone will win this competition too. Why shouldn't it be you?

Friday, 28 April 2017

Unseasonal words

Words mag are running another free to enter writing competition. You have up to 2,000 words to write a story on the theme of Christmas and entries don't have to be in until the end of June. There are cash prizes.

All entries will also be considered for publication in the magazine, but this isn't compulsory.

At the end of last year, I realised I'd not entered many competitions recently, so sent something in for the previous Words mag competition - and came second! I should probably enter a few more.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017


Younker is a very old term for a youngster. Here's a picture of me when I was a younker.

Despite the evidence, I don't actually feel old enough to have been in black and white.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Ink blots and poetic plots

Printerinks are running a free poetry competition with a £100 Amazon voucher as the prize. You have 45 lines and until 5th May to write poetically about new beginnings.

I used ordinary ink to create this test. If you don't do poetry (or even if you do) perhaps you'd like to play. All you have to do is say what you see in the pattern, and I'll give you a totally made up and extremely unhelpful interpretation of what that says about you.

Or you could do the same for me. I can see a bug-eyed and rather grumpy goat/dog hybrid. It's attempting to disguise its grumpiness by clapping its spindly little legs and throwing confetti in the air.

My husband, Gary, reckons it's a surprised viking.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Lost in translation

Brilliant fiction are running another free to enter 500 word fiction competition. The prompt is 'the dubash'. I had to look that one up. It means Indian translator or interpreter.

There are cash prizes, starting at €50 or local equivalent for the winner. All shortlisted entries will be published. Thanks to Alyson Faye for passing on the details.

Have you ever got lost or caused confusion due to language difficulties? It happens to me a lot in patisseries. I always only intend to order a couple, but somehow always end up with a much larger selection.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017


I'm sure you're aware that a sultana is a dried seedless raisin type thing and absolutely delicious when included in sticky buns which have been toasted and spread generously with butter and... Sorry, got distracted for a moment there.

The small yellow grape variety which produces these fruit is also called a sultana - as is the wife, mother, daughter or concubine of a sultan.

So a sultana could grow sultanas, dry them to make sultanas and feed these to the rest of the sultan's sultanas.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017


Well done to Alyson Faye, who saw a competition I'd listed here, entered and won! It's a regular competition, with cash prizes offered twice a month, so you can have a go yourself.

Do you enter any of the competitions I mention? Ever win any?

Sunday, 16 April 2017

A spot of lunch?

Thanks to Fay Knowles for passing on this submission opportunity, which she spotted on Morgen Bailey's useful blog (Morgen runs a free monthly 100 word competition with a writing course as the prize).

Lunch Ticket are looking for poetry, prose, fiction, flash, creative non-fiction and artwork. They have regular submission windows. The current one closes at the end of this month. (I don't think they pay.)

In case you were wondering, the photo shows a little light snack in the mobile writing retreat.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Send oldies packing

If you can write either a factual article, or entertaining short story on the subject of 'travel for seniors' in 750 words or less, you could win £200. Entry is free, anyone over 16 may enter and you have until 31st of July to send something in.

I don't quite qualify as a senior, but I'm practicising the travelling part, ready for when I am.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017


You know how you're aware a thing exists, but it had never occurred to you there was a specific word for it? (Or is that just me?) Well, those little strandy bits in an egg, which join the yolk to the ends of the egg, inside the shell, are known as chalaza.

Competitions for eggs on plates are an actual thing too. I'm sure there's a word for that... Whatever it is, I like the fact this happens so much, I recreated it in a scene in Firestarter.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Pen Pals

Over the last few days I've been meeting up with lots of writing friends. As quite a few of them write for women's magazines, I've posted the details on my womagwriter blog.

As you're here though, I have an excuse to share some other photos from the same trip...

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Third Word

The Third Word run a twice monthly flash fiction competition. It's free to enter, they only want 80 words and you can send multiple entries. There's a £20 prize each fortnight, plus the chance of publication.

It's hard to illustrate a competition where you can write about whatever you like, so here's a photo of something I like. I'll be extremly impressed if you work it into your winning story.

How do you feel about such tight words counts? Do they encourage you to have a go, or put you off?

Friday, 7 April 2017

Going to Galtelli?

There's not long left to enter this competition, but as the prize is €1,000, travel to Sardinia and accomodation whilst you're there, plus publication, you might think it's worth staying up late to get an entry written. 2nd, 3rd and 4th placed entries get the same, minus the €1,000.

Just to make it a little harder, your piece of up to 5,000 words should be inspired by Daledda's novel Canne al Vento.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Thanks, IWSG

The Insecure Writer's Support Group exists to allows writers to share their insecurities and to offer support to others.

A few months ago I made a post saying I had so many projects on the go that I was spending more time deciding which to work on than I was on writing. Thanks to the great responses I got, I was able to prioritise and do some actual writing.

The one I tackled first, Leave Nothing But Footprints, was for a competition. I 'only' had to get the first chapter and outline done by the end of last month. Whilst I wait for the results, I'm going to move onto somehing else for a while. Whatever the result, having a bit of distance from the story will be a good thing. To be honest, my chances of success in that competition are very slim, but having got my entry sorted out in time feels like a real achievement and has given me a confidence boost.

Have you ever asked for help with anything writing related and got a response which has helped you produce a result you're pleased with?

Sunday, 2 April 2017

I will if you will

The Scottish book trust run a monthly 50 word short story competition. If you write two words a day, you'll be in plenty of time to enter this month.

I double dare you to send something in!

Wednesday, 29 March 2017


Abiogenesis is the formation of living organisms from non-living substances. It sounds an unlikely thing to happen, but unless it was created from nothing at all, then this must be how life started on Earth. Unless it was brought here by aliens, in which case abiogenesis must have occurred on whichever planet they came from.

Oh, and the spontaneous generation of living forms is also called abiogenesis. Gosh, who'd have thought that explaining the creation of life would be complicated?

Here's a fluffy, baby living organism. If you don't know how babies are created, ask strangers on the bus. You'll be sure to get a seat to yourself.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Look sharp

This competition asks you to write something creative using one or more visual prompts. It can be poetry, fiction, non-fiction or smething experimental.

Whichever you choose, you'll need to write it promptly, as the competition closes at the end of the month. There's no entry fee and a cash prize of $25.

If you don't fancy the competition, maybe you'd like to use this photo to write something else?

Friday, 24 March 2017

Comedy Gold?

Theatre Cloud are looking for funny writing of up to 500 words. There are cash prizes including £300 for the winner. Authors retain the rights to their stories, but these are published on the site at the time of entry, so you won't be able to offer first rights anywhere else.

You have until 7th May to enter, but if you do so by 1st April, you'll qualify for discount thetre tickets as well as having a shot at the prize.

I told this chap a cheesy joke about how he could hide himself with marscapone. As you can see, he's laughing himself horse.

Hmm. Maybe I won't enter this one.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017


I knew that engross meant to fully occupy, as in 'she was so completely engrossed in the Paint Me A Picture that she missed her stop and was late for work*'. What I hadn't realised was that there are two other definitions.

Engross can mean to make a 'fair copy' of a legal document or to reproduce something in a larger format.

Have you ever been involved in any kind of engrossment? Please tell me if you have, as I'm sure I'll find the details engrossing.

*I'm told this actually happened to someone. She's since bought other of my books, so I think I'm forgiven.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Lucky seven?

Thanks to Fay Knowles for passing on this link, to seven free to enter writing competitions. There are some great prizes on offer.

Here's a photo of a Welsh castle, because we had to cross the river Severn to get there ;-)

Do you have a lucky number? Ever have the urge to throw something at your computer while reading one of my blog posts?

Friday, 17 March 2017

Dash off a flash

Here's another flash competition which gives me the excuse to post one of my travel photos (I took this from the bridge of a ship on the Irish Sea).

The theme is 'journeys' you have up to 513 words and until the end of the month to write your story. Amazon vouchers are on offer for the best three entries.