Thursday, 11 February 2016

Scottish retreat

The George Burn Prize is a cheque for £5,000 plus the option of a writing retreat of up to three months in Scotland. I very much like the sound of that and not just because it makes it easy to pick a photo to go with this post.

The judges are looking for "...novels which dare to enter history and interrogate the past; writers of non-fiction brave enough to recast characters and historical events to create a new and vivid reality. Literature which challenges perceived notions of genre and makes us think again about just what it is that we are reading."

Anyone glancing through one of my first drafts is likely to think, "What the heck am I reading?" Do you think that's what they mean?

Wednesday, 10 February 2016


To explain a muckle, I first need to tell you about mickle. Mickle means large, or great amount. Eg, to  keep Patsy happy, provide a mickle of cakes. They can be small cakes as long as there are a lot of them, as many a little makes a mickle.

Got that? OK, now you may have heard that many a mickle makes a muckle. Well it's not entirely true as mickles and muckles are the same thing. So you just need one mickle to make a muckle, as long as it's a big un - which it will be as mickles are large.

Compared with a ping pong ball, The Sphere is a muckle beast. Or perhaps mickle suits him better?

Tuesday, 9 February 2016


If you're interested in writing for women's magazines, hop on over to the womagwriter blog. Updated guidelines for various magazines are now available - and more will be added over the next week or so.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Health warning.

I think I've mentioned this short story competition before, but it's free, there's £700 in prize money and it gives me an excuse to post another picture from our Scotalnd trip*, so you're getting it again.

*Brace yourself for more. We're going back later this year.

Friday, 5 February 2016

Dribble drabble trouble

Morgen Bailey runs regular free to enter 100 word short story competitions. These are known as drabbles - not to be confused with dribbles.

She offers on-line writing courses as prizes.

I know this is a lot more than a dribble, but then I usually write a lot more than 100 words.

This stuff makes a reasonable amount of sense before I start typing ...

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Almost winning

The Insecure Writer's Support Group exists so that writers can share their fears, worries and concerns and offer support to other members. Do join if you feel it would help you, or that you could help others.

Rejections are something which make me feel insecure. I come up with, what I hope, is a good idea. I spend time expressing it as well as I can and tailoring the style and word length of the story to suit the requirements of a particular publication - and they send it back. Don't they like my stuff anymore? Will the same thing happen to everything else I write? Were my previous acceptances just flukes?

Not winning a competition doesn't worry me anything like as much. Of course I wanted to win, but I can live with the fact that someone out there had a slightly more interesting idea, or one which just happened to appeal to the judge. Maybe it's the best thing they ever wrote, or it could even be that they just got lucky. Thing is, competitions seem to be a reflection on the winners' work, not a criticsm of my own.

Whether you share my view or not, you might like to try a writing competition. I post details of new, free to enter, writing competitions each week. The following all run regularly (most are monthly).

This one is for ghost stories, this one has a different premise each month, for this one you only need write 100 words, you can write on any subject for this one and this one provides prompts. All are free to enter and they all offer some kind of prize.

p.s. See my last post to listen to one of my stories which did win a competition.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

On fire!

The Nottingham Writers' Club national competition (which I'm judging) is now open. The competition aims to encourage less experienced writers, so the rules state 'please don't enter if you've earned £300 or more from short story writing during 2015'. The theme is fire. Handily I have a book cover I can use to illustrate that ...

This one isn't free, but you will get a few lines of feedback from the first readers on every entry, which I think is easily worth £5. Winners also get feedback from me. Plus there are cash prizes and publication of the top three.

Talking of winning ... you may remember I was one of two winners in the Soundworks competition. My story has now been recorded. Click on Uncle Mick to listen to it (if you like - there won't be a test or anything).

Soundworks are running another free competition. You have until the end of April to send in your entries.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Bookmark this

Thanks to Gail Aldwin for passing on the details of this 50 word story competition. It's free to enter and the prize is to have your story illustrated and turned into a bookmark. I rather like that idea.

I like bookmarks and have quite a few, including some I had done to promote my books. (Even so,
I'm quite likely to mark my place with an old receipt or other odd bit of paper.

Do you use bookmarks?

Friday, 29 January 2016

Ship's Ahoy!

My lovely husband has written a book! Today is the launch date. If you like ships you're probably going to love it. There are hundreds of excellent photographs of ships and thousands of interesting facts about ships.

He's far too shy to be interviewed, so I'll just quote some of the things he said whilst he was writing it. Some you might empathise with if you've written any kind of book yourself and one I *may* have made up.

"I've always wanted to do this."

"That's the first chapter done, the rest shouldn't take long."

"Why did I think this would be a good idea?"

"I'll never get this finished."

"Never again."

"It's all right for you, you just make it all up."

"All my success in life ever is due to my wonderful wife and the brilliant way she carries my tripod for me. She's terrific in every way."


"Never again."

"No I can't go out/eat dinner/come to bed/talk to you - I've got a book to finish."

"This was a terrible idea."

"Never again."

"Huzzah! Finished."

"I wonder if anyone will buy it?"

"They want me to do another one. That might be a good idea."