Wednesday, 31 July 2013


I expect you know what a swan is and can probably see where the term swan necked comes from. The birds' graceful progress across the water would account for the phrase swanning about too (I swan about a fair bit, though not usually in a graceful manner. That's what I was doing when I spotted this family.)

A swan song is a person's last work or act before death or retirement. I'm not sure why a large white water bird of the genus Cygnus should be associated with that, or with a form of diving, but it is. 

Did you know that swan can also refer to a poet? And can you guess who has been referred to as the swan of Avon?

If you'd like to read the first three chapters of my novel, Paint Me a Picture, you can do so here. (Er ... swans are good subjects for paintings, which is the closest I can get to making that relevant.)

Would a prize of £30,000* encourage you to swan about a bit more? If so, you might like to enter this short story competition.

*that's plenty to buy five gold rings, though perhaps insufficient to get a lord leaping with excitement ;-)

Monday, 29 July 2013

Guest post by Kamy Chetty

Kamy is joining me today to talk about her writing and of course writing contests: The good, the bad, warts and all. She's also offering a free kindle copy of Breathe Again to one of the commenters on this post.
If you’re from New Zealand you’d know we have just had the final of our first X Factor NZ. My family has followed this contest over the last 7 months and we have laughed and cried, agreed and disagreed with the judges on many occasions.
It still doesn’t answer the question. Should we or shouldn’t we? Well I am going to say this, having been on all sides of this issue personally. Yes, enter contests, but do it with a purpose and work smart. Know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. What are you hoping to achieve and where are you hoping this will get you?
The reason I am getting you to ask these questions, is because contests can be a lot of work and very expensive, leaving you doing the first three chapters and a synopsis of many stories but never finishing the book. So back to basics. What do you want?
Feedback: Contests are a great way to get feedback. Most contest managers ensure that judges give good constructive feedback but there are a few contests out there that don’t hit the spot for the newbie
Getting Noticed:  It’s an excellent way to get noticed by the right editor or agent if you choose the right contest. Again, it’s about working smart, not hard. Choose the genre and agent/editor you want to be noticed by.
Fast Track: Fast Track submission contests are excellent and Harlequin is always having them. This is a great way to get your name known. Get your name on the loops and Facebook groups
Ultimately it’s all about working smarter. Look out for the contest charts, I know Stephanie Smith has one that she keeps up to date. Choose what you want to enter and where you want to be. In my experience it has paid off to enter contests and it looks great on your writing CV but it’s hard work that makes the difference. Thanks for having me here and I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject.

There hasn’t been a time in her life that Kamy hasn’t been writing, or dreaming up some magical love story in her head. As an avid reader, it wasn’t long before she realised her talent for turning a phrase, and add to that a profession of nursing, it’s only natural that her stories have a medical theme with that happily ever after ending.
Recently she’s discovered that all those years she’s been fascinated with TV shows like CSI and Bones, has just been foreplay for her dark side and she now enjoys writing suspense with a dash of medical and a dollop of romance.
Originally from South Africa, Kamy now lives in Auckland, New Zealand with her very own hero and two children who keep her busy. She has two dogs who keep her out of trouble and shelves overflowing with books that she loves reading when she isn’t chasing deadlines.

Kamy Chetty around the web: Website Facebook Twitter Author Page

After a tour at war and countless shifts in the hospital emergency room, Nick knows that no matter how hard he tries to change things, people are the same. So when his estranged wife Skylar reveals that she stopped taking birth control and is pregnant, he shouldn’t be shocked. Betrayal burns and panic sets in as memories of his shattered home life remind him that he can’t play happy families.

Skylar knows one thing—she’s head over nurse’s shoes in love with the stubborn and unemotional Nick. She loves him enough to believe in the man he is, even though he can’t see it for himself and hides behind a mask. As he calls their child “hers” and tries to live apart from her, Skylar’s heart breaks, but she refuses to give up hope that he’ll do the right thing.

When disaster strikes, Skylar realizes Nick might never change, so she risks everything and sets him free, hoping he’ll come back, for her and their baby. Is heat, passion and a vow enough to seal this marriage and make them a family?

Reader Alert! 
Their passion and devotion will make you root for them, and their sexual tension will set you ablaze.
Read Reviews Buy Links: Red Sage Amazon Amazon UK B&N

Family Ties
A woman with no family ties of her own, desperate to fulfill her dream of having a child finds she
cannot conceive a child naturally. A man who feels guilt over his ex-wife's death, cannot find closure. Can the attraction these two people feel be enough to overcome their conflicting desires, especially when Jack finds himself the guardian of a baby he isn't sure he can be responsible for.
Read Reviews Buy Links Amazon Amazon UK

Wednesday, 24 July 2013


Frangible means brittle or liable to break. To me it sounds like one of those flaky pastry things which shatter as you bite into them, but not until after they've squidged a dollop of cream down whatever you were wearing.

It could also apply to the poor plants on my allotment as I think ours is the only town in the country not to have had rain over the last few days. 

Or even to that little burst of confidence that allows us to submit our work and which cracks at the mere thought of a 'thanks but no thanks' by return of post. Still if you want to be published you have to risk that. 

Stained glass is frangible. This example is hundreds of years old. It's lasted because it's surrounded and supported by the stone walls of Dover castle. Maybe there's a lesson there?

Wednesday, 17 July 2013


Succulent is a brilliantly descriptive word, I think. Doesn't it sound just like biting into a ripe, juicy strawberry freshly picked and still warm from the afternoon sun? It can also refer to moisture filled plants - the ones that look like shaved cacti.

As you can probably tell from the photo* I'm currently out in the van and being sociable. I'm just off now to meet up with someone (who I only know through the internet) at Beachy Head. I can't see anyway that could possibly go wrong....

*There's cucumber in those drinks and that's a jolly succulent vegetable.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013


Schadenfreude is my husband's favourite word. (Does anyone else have a favourite word?) It's German really, but the English like to acquire foreign words and make them our own by pronouncing them incorrectly.

It means to take pleasure from someone else's misfortune. I don't do that (unless the person particularly deserves their horrible fate) but sometimes, even as I'm doing my best to help, I think 'that would make a good story'. (Does anyone else do that?)