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.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Round and round

Here's another monthly, free to enter competition. The prizes vary, this month it's £25 cash. You can submit a short story or poetry on any subject.

Don't know about you, but being told I can write about anything tends to make my mind go blank, so here's a photo from my recent trip that you can use as a prompt if you like. Points for anyone who knows where it was taken (clue - it was on the way up)

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Ooooooh October

October feels like a good time to write ghost stories; the nights are drawing in, the moon looks suitably mysterious with clouds, lit by its eerie glow, scudding past and trick or treat tat is doing its best to hold back the Christmas tat in the shops.

Spinetinglers are always looking for spooky stories. I know I've mentioned them before, but it's a free to enter competition which runs every month and gives cash prizes from £100 to first down to £25 for fifth (I know that as I was fifth in September's competition)

Wednesday, 8 October 2014


Quadrennial can either mean lasting for four years, or recurring every four years. That's rather confusing, isn't it? Suppose I told you I had a cake eating binge on a quadrennial basis - would that mean I stuffed myself silly for forty-eight consecutive months, or that I lasted almost four years between blow-outs?

Now you're confused over the meaning of a word which you hadn't previously even knew existed. There's no need to thank me. I do this kind of thing out the goodness of my heart.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Lovely Liz

Part of my epic trip to Scotland took me somewhere near Dundee. Lovely Liz Smith (fiction editor from My Weekly) previously said that if I happened to be somewhere near Dundee to let her know. I did let her know - and she flew to Tenerife! She had to come back though, so here we both are.

If she wasn't the fiction editor and I didn't hope to sell her more stories I'd tell you how her cake was much larger than mine and had a lot more cream, but she is and I do, so I won't. Instead, I'll pass on her top tips for getting stories into magazines - have a good idea, write it well and study the market. This last doesn't mean skimming through an old copy in the dentist's either. Buy several issue and read them carefully. Liz has worked in the fiction department of more than one publication and says she's had to reject good stories just because they don't fit the market they've been submitted to.

Btw, although My Weekly are currently closed to those writers who're not already known to them, Liz  confirmed she's happy to hear from those who've had features, serials or pocket novels published by My weekly.