Friday, 6 March 2015

For fantasists

This competition for fantasy stories up to 8,000 words offers an engraved award, paid for publication, lots of books. Sounds good doesn't it?

I have a fantasy of being able to spend all my time writing stories, carrying tripods, digging the garden and travelling in our van. Oh hold on a minute, no, that's reality ... My fantasy is doing all that AND getting paid for it.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015


It's Insecure Writer's Support Group time again.

My current security is 'Over the Garden Fence' a collection of 24 short stories I'm in the process of putting together. The writing/editing part is mostly done and it's due to be sent of to the proofreader in a few days. They'll be typos, I know, but they can be fixed.

What's making me insecure is a) dealing with all the formatting and the sfotware to make it available through Createspace and on Kindle. Mirrored margins, non embedded text and weird reactions to section breaks are enough to make anyone, other than computer whizzes, insecure. I'm not a computer whizz.

An b) is the video question. I made this mad one for my last collection. Should I do another? Before you answer, consider the title and the fact I might have to cartwheel, or at least leap, over a garden fence.

Oh and obviously c) will anyone buy it?

Saturday, 28 February 2015


Alfie Dog have just launched a new competition. To take part you need to download a short story from the site (I'd love it to be one of these) write a short review (30-50 words) and send it in. There's £100 for the winner. There's no entry fee, but you have to pay for the story. Most of them are 39p.

I asked Rosemary Kind from Alfie Dog for a bit more info ...

Me. £100 for just a few sentences? You must think reviews are important!

Rosemary. Reviews are incredibly important. We live in an age where 'word of mouth' has gone both electronic and global. When you are finding work, by new authors in particular, it gives you an idea of the quality of the writing.

Me. What do you think makes a good review?

Rosemary. A good review is one that gives the next reader an idea of why the story is worth reading without telling them what happens. It might well prepare the reader to have a box of tissues handy if the story is emotional, or warn them to choose where to read the story if they are likely to laugh out loud or even suggest reading in daylight a long time before bed for a horror story! There is nothing worse than a spoiler in a review. A teaser can work well - a comment on a particular hook that had you spellbound, but giving away what happened next is like stealing the punchline of a good joke.

Me. Who are reviews for - readers or writers?

Rosemary. Reviews are for readers. They are great for writers to have an idea of what is working or for that matter not working in their writing, but essentially they are there to give other readers confidence that the story they are looking at is one they will enjoy reading. In some ways, it is the same reason we include a blurb written by the author and the opening of the story. They give the reader a taster of what they will find within.

Do you agree with Rosemary? Will you be entering the competition?

Friday, 27 February 2015


This competition offers $25 for a short story of 1,000 - 3,000 words. You have a couple of weeks to enter which you do online and, as usual for the competitions I feature, there's no fee to do so.

You can write about anything - even a nice bit of wood panelling.

Friday freebie. You can download this sci-fi/fantasy book here but be quick offer ends today.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015


Often I challenge you to use my Wednesday Word of the Week, but not this time. I'd like this one to vanish.

Invent is a word. It means to use thought to create and originate. The result is an invention, created by an inventive inventor. It could be a physical thing, such as a wheel, space ship or cake. It might be an idea, song or story.

Re-invent doesn't mean anything, or at least not anything good as far as I can tell. Re-inventing usually seems to involve taking something good and popular and messing it up. Favourite food products are re-invented with a 'new and improved' recipe meaning they're smaller, pricier and disgusting. Classic stories are re-invented as unconvincing, watered down versions of the original. Re-invention is so much not a thing, that I'm not even going to make the letters bold.

Ooops, Wednesday Word of the Week seems to have been re-invented as Wednesday Whinge of the Week! I'm right though ... aren't I?

Sunday, 22 February 2015

More poetry prizes

For a chance to win £10,000 for a poetry collection or £1,000 for a single poem, click here.

We've already established I'm no poet, so I'll go straight to a photo of my garden.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Poetry prize

There's £1,000 in prizes on offer for this free to enter poetry competition (but only if you're a mere youth of 18-30)

I'm really not much of a poet
If you've read some you know it
I'm better with flowers
And will garden for hours
I think this picture will show it.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015


I'm sure you all know that a calendar is the kind of chart thingy with the days and months of the year divided up. You're probably also aware that it's very easy to type calender instead (you will be if you've read any of my drafts as I'm always doing it)

Did you know a calender is a real thing? I didn't until Christine pointed it out to me after reading one of my drafts in which the fire service produced a calendar of scantily clad firemen. My mc Handsome Hamish is Mr May and featured rescuing a kitten, but I digress ...

A calender is machine which uses rollers to press paper or cloth into smooth sheets.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Tartan day

Write a real, or ficticious diary entry for a visit to Scotland and you
 could win either a kindle or a hotel stay (depending on age) in this competition.

I've been to Scotland (did I say?) so I have no excuse not to try this, have I?