Saturday, 25 October 2014


Fancy having a go at Sci-fi? There's £200 on offer for the winner of this competition. The competition is intended to highlight new, unprofessional writers (check the rules as it means new sci-fi writers. Sales in other areas probably won't make you ineligible)

Do you know what the photo is of? As a clue, I took it on our trip to Scotland. 103 points to anyone who gets it right.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Are you serious?

I'm not really a very serious person in general (had you noticed?) but I'm serious about my writing and do have plans and ambitions. How about you? Do you take parts of your life seriously?

Those who have serious writing ambitions and have had at least one story published can try this competition. The prize is £1,000.

Here's me with my dad's puppy Willow. She's seriously cute and hasn't she grown? The other dog is Bramble and she belongs to my step mum. Bramble isn't a pup (although she thinks she is).

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Crenellations of Tantallon

You might have known that crenellation is the uppy downy bits on battlements. You can have a point if you did. To crenallate is to provide a castle or tower with crenellation.

Did you know the uppy downy parts also have proper names? The gaps are crenels or crenelles. The bits between are merlons. Here's a sign to prove I don't just make all this stuff up.

And here's a picture of a castle, showing crenallation, which was taken on our recent trip and is obviously the entire reason for choosing today's word of a week. It's called Tantallon - isn't that a fantastic name for a castle?

We got there early and had the place to ourselves for the first half hour. I really must work it into a story.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

You knew already

I've been interviewed by Creative Frontiers. My answers perhaps make me seem a little odd, but if you've been following this blog you'll be used to that.

Here's an old, but date appropriate, picture of me pretending to be left handed.

And here's a competition for those of you who have real life experiences which would make a good story.

Sally has details of a competition which involves writing by hand. I can do the writing part, finding anyone who can read it is much harder.

Monday, 20 October 2014

The Day Death Wore Boots

This spookily good collection of short stories is available from Amazon and the publishers as an ebook or paperback.

Good cover isn't it?

Saturday, 18 October 2014

When Patsy met Suzy

I recently met up with writing buddy Suzy (Susan Jane Jones) as she says in her report it didn't really feel like a first meeting. For one thing I've read about many of her (mis)adventures and giggles on her blog and via our online group.

Suzy writes the slightly mad and great fun Redington stories. There's an example here. Eventually there'll be a book about her imaginary village as I'll nag her until there is. Suzy is brilliant at telling real events in a quick and entertaining way, so I hope she's going to enter this competition. Free to enter and there's £200 on offer for your 500 word story.

Suzy helps and encourages me with my writing, so I might as well blame her for this. It's a mini series in three parts. It's all available to read (free) now.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Aoife Mannix

Here's a brilliant opportunity for writers in the Gosport area. (If you are local you might be interested in this writing group too)

"Writing Consultations – Gosport Discovery Centre
Friday 7 November: 6 sessions: 1-1.30pm  1.30-2pm  2-2.30pm  2.30-3pm  3-3.30pm  3.30-4pm

One to One discussion, advice and critique of your poetry or prose.

A unique, free, opportunity to get tuition, advice and critique on a sample of your writing from Gosport Gallery’s Writer in Residence, Aoife Mannix in these half hour bookable sessions.

Aoife Mannix is Gosport Gallery’s writer in residence, in association with their Artists Rifles exhibition. She has previously been writer in residence for BBC Radio 4’s Saturday Live and the Royal Shakespeare Company.  She has published four collections of poetry and a novel. She is a creative writing tutor at the University of Westminster and Goldsmiths.

Aoife’s residency will run until mid December, working with a variety of groups from schools to gallery visitors, and supporting the local writing community.

These half hour sessions must be booked in advance by emailing .  They will take place at Gosport Discovery Centre. 
Please email including a Word document with a sample of four poems or 500 words from a short story or novel in progress which will form the basis for the session - thank you.  Please be assured this writing will only be shared with Aoife and not be passed on to any other third party.
You will then be emailed whether you have been successful and the time slot allocated. "

Wednesday, 15 October 2014


My friends Geoff and Edna suggested rummage as a word of the week*.  Like us, they're campervanners** (the picture is of the four of us celebrating finding a good pitch)

Campervanners often have to rummage. It can mean to search untidily and unsystematically. It doesn't matter how tidily and systematically you pack your van, that kind of approach never works when it comes to finding the corkscrew and chocolate.

A rummage can be a confused miscellanuous collection (of craft supplies perhaps, Edna?) A rummager is someone who rummages. Once you've finished rummaging you will have rummaged for long enough.

To rummage out is to find amongst other things. To rummage about is to disarrange. (That's another good word)

Rummage also refers to the arrangement of casks in the hold of a ship. That definitely needs to be done tidily and systematically or the ship will become unstable. Also it'll mean the sailors have to rummage about to find their rum.

*Pity it wasn't rustle, or I could have told you about Edna rustling up thai green kippers, or the time Geoff got us lost in the fog and we heard weird rustling sounds in the night (which turned out to be hundreds of sheep we'd not seen through the mist on our arrival)

**They're the friends mentioned in my recent radio interview. My bit starts ten minutes in and lasts for five minutes.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Looking back

Erewash Writers are running another free entry competition. This time it's for up to 500 words of historical fiction. The prize is a copy of Shirley Harber's 'The Snake Princess', free entry into their open competition (which has a £100 prize) and publication on their site.

Although Shirley's book is set in ancient Egypt you can write about any period of history.

Shirley has a few tips which should help - "Historical fiction should have as factually accurate a depiction as possible of the chosen period if the fiction is to be believed. Readers are very quick to pick up anachronisms (ie no cigarettes in 1820. Sights, scents, sounds all need to work with the period).
But people lived and loved and hated and had all the emotions we have today and human nature is still the same - it's just  the framework in which those people are set that's different.
Check the facts and then enjoy writing the fiction!"

If you do fancy setting it in Egypt, this might help.

Erewash Writers run regular competitions. Although not free, this one for new writers (which they define as someone whose not yet had a sale or win) might be of interest. Each entrant will get a critique and the chance of winning £40 which isn't bad for £3.

As always, read the rules and regulations carefully before enterring, rather than relying on my quick summing up. You know how scatty I can be.

Oh history! That means another excuse to sneak in one of my holiday pictures. This one is of part of Tantallon Castle. It was built around 1350 and yes it's in Scotland and yes, I did have to climb a lot of stone spiral steps to take it.