Sunday, 19 November 2017

Ad hoc flashing

Ad hoc fiction run a regular flash fiction competition. They provide a prompt and ask for 150 words.

If you win, you'll get free entry into the Bath Flash fiction award. For that they want 300 words and are offering a prize of £1,000.

(It's a lighthouse... they flash!)

Friday, 17 November 2017

That's sound

Soundworks are running another of their short story competitions. Entries can on any theme and submitted from anywhere in the world and be up to fifteen minutes long. That last bit is because the prize is to have your story recorded and made available for people to listen to on the site.

There's no charge to listen, or to enter. Previously published stories may be entered and it's an
interesting experience hearing your story read in this way (I know as I'm a previous winner).

There's just a few hours left to enter this competition, but as they only want 100 words, you might manage it. (Note - now closed)

Seagulls are noisy birds, aren't they? Have you heard the racket they make whenever the feel the need to protect their young?

Wednesday, 15 November 2017


To miaul is to cry like a cat, or to mew. I have no idea, other than the spelling, how it differes from miaow. Do you know?

Bagpuss doesn't miaul, he snores.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Paid for reviews

I've received the following email - "I just found out on Goodreads that you are looking for reviews for your book. If you are still looking for reviews, please do contact me. I have an extremely affordable review tour service available for authors. With the help of my service, you can reach out to more than 14,000 readers and 2,000 book bloggers. Only SERIOUS inquires will receive a response, thanks. "

In common with all writers, I really, really want reviews on my books (If you're read one of mine please, please pretty please, leave a review on Amazon/Goodreads) and I totally understand the temptation to resort to unethical ways of getting them, but please don't. When you get found out, it'll undermine all credibility in your own writing – and tarnish the reputation of other indy authors, even those who don't cheat in this way. 

Not A Drop To Drink is still free and reviews for that will be just as welcome as those for my other books.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Coming and going

This competition is for a poem on the theme of migration. The human kind, not birds and animals.

There's a £200 prize.

I don't really know what came over me, but I've entered this one.

Friday, 10 November 2017

Would this be cheating?

I'm doing Nano, and I was on track until yesterday, when a magazine editor asked me to rewrite a short story I'd subbed. I think I was entirely right to do that – but perhaps not to slip back into short story mode so fully that I forgot about the novel and drafted another short story.

Although I wrote 2,500 new words, they don't count towards my NaNo total. Unless ...

Would it be completely cheating for my main character to pick up a magazine and read an entire short story? If it is, how else can I get myself back on track?

Local – if you're from the West Country

This novel writing competition is for any author 'based in Dorset, Somerset, Wiltshire, Devon and Cornwall or have written on a subject matter that is directly relevant and closely related to those counties'. I do most of my writing on location, in the camper van, I wonder if that will be enough to qualify me. 

As well as living in the right place, you need to produce your book as printed copies either by self publishing, or through a local independent publisher. The prize is £1,000.

I took this photo somewhere in Dorset, but didn't make a note of the precise location. If you're a local, perhaps you could remind me where it is.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017


A contranym (or contronym or even autoantonym if you prefer) is a word for which there are two opposite or contradictory meanings.

As examples–

 'Left' can mean remaining or departed. When the girls left the room, the boys were left behind.

'Trim' can either mean adding or removing something. I trim my hat with flowers, but trim the hedge with shears. 

'Refrain' is either to stop or repeat depending on the context. I might sing the refrain, or refrain from singing. (If you're nearby, you'll prefer the latter.)

Can you think of more examples?

Tuesday, 7 November 2017


Do you use your local library? Over on my womagwriter blog, I'm running a poll asking that question   - please pop over and vote if  you have a minute to spare.

Monday, 6 November 2017

Less privileged?

This competition is for a  'talented writer from a less-privileged background who is in need of financial assistance in order to be able to join one of Curtis Brown Creative’s six-month novel-writing courses'.
To be eligible, you'll need to be on an income of under £23,000 (or £30,000 if you live with someone) and you won't have had two parents who both went to university.

Hmmm, by that definition I'm VERY underpriviledged as neither of my parents went to uni, and my writing isn't bringing in as much cash as that. Odd, as I think I was lucky in my upbringing and I'm very happy with my current lifestyle. 

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Win a publishing contract

Lulu and Writing Magazine are running a novel writing competition. Entries can be in any genre and from published or unpublished authors – although the actual entry must not have been published in any form.

The prize is to have your book published. You'll earn royalties on sales and they're offering marketing support, so it seems like a pretty good deal. There's no fee to enter, other than the time and dedication needed to actually write a novel.

One of these books was originally published as the result of me winning a novel writing competition. Can you guess which? (Here's a massive clue.)

Friday, 3 November 2017

Book busking

This is me in action 'book busking' as a small part of the Bristol literary festival. I read a couple of stories from my collection Slightly Spooky Stories I.

 While I was there I met up with some writing friends and attended an interesting talk on self publishing. That was realistic about the difficulties we Indy authors face, but it hasn't entirely put me off!

From Bristol we went castle spotting in Wales and then spent hallowe'en listening to owls, watching the mist shrouded moon and photographing abbey ruins.

Monday, 30 October 2017

One Act

Here's a competition to write a one act play. The shortlisted playes will all be performed in the Daneside theatre.

It's free to enter, open to anyone in the UK or Ireland and there's a £150 prize.

Saturday, 28 October 2017

One in four

If you're a debut novelist, with 'experience of single parent family life' and have written a book which celebrates single parent families, you can enter this competition. (There's a bit more info here.)

The competition is run by Trapeze in association with Gingerbread and The Pool. You'd think that would give me plenty of scope for an illustration, but this was the closest I could manage.

The requirements are quite precise, but that means competition might not be as fierce as for other more general competitions. The prize is excellent  – £10,000 a publishing contract and mentoring.

Friday, 27 October 2017

A good idea

There isn't long to go until this competition closes. There's no theme though, so you may have something you can polish up and send off. The prize is £300.

Only those who've never been published, nor won a writing competition, may enter.

If you're fairly new to writing, or are returning to it after a break, or are struggling with motivation, you may find the book From Story Idea to Reader helpful. I think it's excellent, but don't take my word for it - read these reviews for the audible version (most of them are on the .com version).

The book is also available in paperbook and ebook forms and can be borrowed from some UK libraries.

Wednesday, 25 October 2017


A while ago I used gaddabout as the word of the week. I was informed by Jim that I'd missed off gadfly. My excuse reason for that is it's not quite the same word.

A gadfly can be an actual fly – an annoying one. Horse flies and botflies irritate horses, cattle and people. I suppose that in rushing about trying to avoid being bitten by the pesky things, it might seem from a distance that their victims are on the gad.

A gadfly is also a person who upsets the status quo. Why anyone would want to I'm not sure - don't we all love rocking all over the world...? Sorry.

On our trip to the Outer Hebrides, Gary and I had very little trouble with midges, but on Eriskay we were plagued by horse flies at one particular spot.

What do you reckon; was it Jim's coment or the change to post more of my travel pictures which encouraged me to make gadfly the word of the week?

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Get going

The Telegraph are still running their 'just back' travel writing competition.

You know the main reason I remind you of it is that it gives me a good excuse to post some of my holiday pictures, but it isn't just that... 

There's a weekly prize of £200 and £1,000 for whichever entry is considered the 'article of the year'.

Ten points if you can name the island where I took these pictures.

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Christmas Carol Competition

Thanks to Carol Bevitt for pointing out this competition. Amazon would like to us to 'reimagine' Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. (Hmm, I can see why she noticed this one!) To take part you must be UK based and complete the story in up to 1,000 words.

Gosh. Add a modern twist to an entire novel and do it in a short story? Good luck with that. If you manage it, you stand a chance of winning a £2,000 Amazon voucher and a Kindle Fire.

Friday, 20 October 2017

First timers

If you've not yet had work published in any format and never won a writing competition, then I strongly urge you to take a look here. 

There's £300 on offer for the winner, plus runner up prizes of £50. Your story can be up to 3,000 words in length and it's free to enter. You don't even need to print out your work or find a stamp.

If you're eligible to enter and don't have a try, you'll make me feel as sad as this chap.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Hysteron proteron

This is a figure of speech in which the natural order of events is reversed. It occurs in well known phrases sich as 'born and bred' 'put on your shoes and socks' and 'thunder and lightning'.

Be careful of accidental hysteron proteron in your writing, for example 'Fred jumped in the air. A loud crash from the dropped tray of glasses had startled him.' Unless you have a good reason for doing things differently, cause should come before result.

Can you think of other examples of hysteron proteron?

Monday, 16 October 2017

Growing Green

Thanks to Beatrice for passing on the details of the Green Parent writing competition. They're looking for articles of between 500 and 2,500 words on the theme of natural parenting. 

There's publication and £150 for the winner. 10 runners up will also be published with 'a hearty byline'. (I'll be interested to see how much more substantial that is compared to the regular kind.)

As well as pregnancy, childbirth and education, suggested topics are alternative health, sustainable lifestyles, green travel and gardening.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Thank you!

Thank you so much to everyone for the help you're giving me in spreading the word about Leave Nothing But Footprints! I really appreciate all the tweets, retweets, likes, shares, comments etc over on Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks also to Diane Burton for hosting a blog post on my reasons for writing this particular story. To Anne Rainbow for interviewing me about my research process, Alex Cavanaugh for the mention and Mac Wheeler for one of his special shout outs. 

On Monday Tara Watson is hosting a post about what it's like to work in the campervan and the few ways in which the story is similar to my own life.

Without your support, my marketing campaign has simply consisted of photos I took whilst researching the book.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Lovely shiny new book

My latest novel is out now today! 

Leave Nothing But Footprints is a romance. A lot of the action takes place, in a campervan, in South Wales. There are photographers, lovely views, yummy food, long walks, wildflowers, deer, mud, cocktails, beaches... The research was soooo tough!

Jessica Borlase always gets what she wants. From cocktails in the exact shade of her manicure, holiday on Capri with friends, to a spacious apartment, her father's money makes it possible. She enjoys the luxurious lifestyle and is grateful for his support, but frustrated to always be treated as Daddy's pampered little girl. She tries to break free, by leaving Borlase Enterprises and studying photography.

Now what Jess wants is the utterly gorgeous Eliot Beatty; a world famous photographer who often uses his talents to benefit conservation projects. Her father attempts to bribe Eliot into taking Jess on an assignment in order to teach her the skills she'll need to develop a career. Although annoyed at the interference, she's delighted to discover this means two weeks with Eliot in the beautiful countryside of South Wales and close confines of a campervan. Trouble is, the man can't be bought.

Jess eventually manages to persuade Eliot to take her. She believes she can earn his respect and that she's ready for the hard work, long hours and living conditions far short of those she's used to. She's wrong on all counts. Can Jess learn to cope with the realities of the trip, and is Eliot really worth the effort?

You can probably see how I got the idea for this one – but I promise it's not autobiographical.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017


A gadabout is a person who gads about. Obvious when you think about it, isn't it? Well, that's unless you're not entirely sure what gadding about involves. Fortunately I'm a gadabout myself (even when writing my books) and therefore able to enlighten you.

To gad is to go about in search of pleasure, or idle wandering and adventure. A person doing this can be said to be 'on the gad'. I have gadded on numerous occasions.

After writing it in all it's forms, I'm no longer sure I like the word gadabout and would rather you thought of me as the travelling writer.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Coming very soon...

It's been almost two years since the last one, but finally I can say my latest novel is out this week! (It can be 'Pre ordered' here.)

Leave Nothing But Footprints is a romance about photographers working from a campervan and is set in Wales.

Anything you can do to help spread the word will be greatly appreciated.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

West Country writers wanted

Thanks to Gail Aldwin for passing on the details of this novel writing competition. Unfortunately (as I'm in the South East) it's only eligible to authors in the South West of England, who have a book which is either locally or self published.

The prize is £1,000.

Ah well, I've been to the West Country, so at least I have an excuse to post more of my travel photos.

If you'd like to write in the West Country, then you might be interested in a Writer's Workshop Weekend next March. It isn't free, but it's going to be excellent!

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Letting things slip

"Have you ever slipped any of your personal information into your characters, either by accident or on purpose?"

I don't think it's possible, nor desirable, to avoid putting a little of ourselves into our writing. We wouldn't, for example, give a character views we strongly disagreed with. Or rather we might, but then they'd be the bad guy, or someone who later realised the error of their ways, or got their comeuppance.

Allowing readers to get a glimpse of my personality and opinions doesn't bother me. Writing is all about sharing what's inside our hearts and heads, isn't it? 

I write about subjects which interest me and I research the places and activities featured in my stories, wherever possible. That often means using our campervan (aka the mobile writing retreat) to work 'on location' and taking photographs to jog my memory later. (The nearest I have to a day job is acting as my photographer husband's assistant.)

What does concern me a little is that readers may think more of my work is based on reality than is actually the case. That has happened in the past and as my latest novel Leave Nothing But Footprints is a romance about photographers in a campervan, I can't help thinking it might happen again.

Being familiar with living in a campervan, having a professional photographer to advise on technical aspects, and setting the story in one of my favourite areas helped a lot with the writing. And I confess, just a few of the small incidents may have happened to me.

But the storyline isn't autobiographical. The van isn't even the same model as ours (well, not the current one anyway). I'm not Jess and Eliot isn't my husband. You do believe me, don't you?

This post is part of the Insecure Writer's Support Group monthly blog hop. If you're a writer, or would like to support writers, then do consider joining.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Guest post by competition winner Lindsay Bamfield

Today's post is by Lindsay Bamfield.

You can learn a lot from Patsy’s blog. Unusual words, pictures of all sorts of interesting places and details of writing competitions. Not just competitions but free-to-enter competitions. Some ask for just a few words while others require mighty essays. Patsy includes non-fiction competitions and fiction embracing all sorts of genres so there’s something for everyone. Some prizes might be modest but others can be serious money. Many aren’t for me, but I have entered two or three, and have now won one.

I love writing and I love travelling, so the competition for the Senior Travel Expert website, leapt out at me. Entrants didn’t have to be a ‘senior’ traveller to enter the competition, although I do qualify on that score! I’d just returned from Uzbekistan and I quickly jotted a piece, not about the place but about travelling with groups of people who were, as our lovely (young) guide phrased it, of an elegant age. I’m going to use that phrase a lot from now on. I played around with the piece for a few days, deleting and adding, and eventually pressed send. And I won. At least, I half-won. Two of us were deemed winners so we shared the prize! You can see both pieces on the Senior Travel Expert website.

Keep an eye on Patsy’s blog, because free competitions are a great way to get competition savvy. After all, what have you to lose? Having said that, free competitions need to be taken as seriously as any other with only your best attempts submitted, because some attract a large number of entries. And if you don’t win, chances are you can recycle your entry for another competition! 

*blushes* Thank you, Lindsay and congratulations once again on your win!