Wednesday, 30 October 2013


Thanks for pitching up to read my latest word of the week post.

Pitch can mean to slope downward, put up a tent, or the space said tent occupies. It can be to throw something, fall headlong or submit a suggestion to an editor. It's the movement of a ship in a longitudinal direction, angle of a roof or where cricket is played. Pitch is a quality of sound, the gloop you get from distilled turpentine or where a market trader displays his wares.

It can also be to express something at a particular level - I do hope I've pitched this post correctly. I also hope I've got everything right and we won't need to have a pitched battle over my definitions.

The pitch of these steps was so steep that if the ship had pitched or rolled I'd have pitched down them.

This poetry competition has a $500 prize and you're allowed to submit work that's been pitched elsewhere or published on your blog. Thanks to Julia for pitching in with the link for that one.

If you've written a children's novel set in Scotland, you might like to pitch it here and be in with the chance of a £2,000 prize.

Monday, 28 October 2013

E J LAmprey

Today's guest is E J Lamprey. I've invited Elizabeth to tell me a bit about her latest book and how she came to write it.

Elizabeth says - Statistically there are more people over fifty getting married than ever before and the senior singles market is thriving. My latest whodunit gleefully dives into the murkiest end, where the predators lurk, and has a bit of fun with on-line dating. I’m not saying it’s the most dangerous, but it’s very popular. Anyway, as I write novellas, with only forty thousand words (give or take) to set my story and solve my murders, a narrow focus is essential! 

It is also the only type I’ve tried in recent years (oh yes, still trying – optimism will always trump experience) and I’m a great believer in sticking to writing what you know.  Anyone who has computer-dated will remember the combination of hope and nervous laughter; at least you survived, eh? 
When the police start investigating alarming irregularities into the senior singles on-lining dating world, Edge is asked if she’d be the dating face of the investigation. She’ll be monitored at all times, so no there’ll be no danger at all … 

This is the third book in a series of cheerful murder mysteries tackled by the ‘villagers’ in a retirement village in Scotland.  The first kicked off with the murder of an unpopular resident. As the blurb puts it, the police could do with some inside information, and fortunately Sergeant Kirsty Cameron’s slightly eccentric aunt is right on the spot.  Helping the police solve the murders in One Two Buckle My Shoe involved Edge’s friend Vivian, and forged new friendships with bon vivant William, and the sardonic Donald. The friends enthusiastically waded into investigating a couple more murders in Three Four Knock On My Door, and thoroughly enjoy the social side of Five Six Pick Up Sticks.  

The books are clean as a whistle, lightly Scottish, and the attentive reader should solve the case a beat ahead, or a beat behind, the amateur detectives. They’re weekend reads, cheerful and carefully plotted, and if you enjoy them I’d love you to leave a review.  

I live on the Firth of Forth near Edinburgh, and my daughter is getting married next spring.  I suspect there’ll be a wedding in one of the next books as it seems to be taking up a huge amount of my thoughts, even though she’s doing most of the organizing! I’ve lined up three mother-of-the-bride outfits (thank you eBay) so that whatever the winter throws at what was once my figure I will be dressed. One is too big, one is too small, and one is just right – call me Goldilocks. 

I’m on Twitter as Elegsabiff, have a blog called Quite Contrary, and a Facebook page for E J Lamprey – if you ‘like’ the page, please leave your own page url posted as a comment so I can return the favour. 

Thank you Patsy for this invitation, loving your work and have been known to giggle helplessly on the train when reading you! 

Patsy Says - Aww, thanks, Elizabeth. Your book sounds like it will be lots of fun too. Get Five Six Pick Up Sticks here.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Shiny and new

I have a new computer.

I didn't really want to change, but my old one was falling apart. It's a 5 1/2 year old laptop that's travelled with me on my push bike, buses, trains, ships and boats. I've used it in the van, in Russia and Spain, at the beach and on honeymoon. It's written two novels and hundreds of stories.

The new one will be good I'm sure, once I get the hang of it. It's smaller, lighter, quicker and has twice the battery life. They keyboard lights up in the dark (handy as I can't touch type). It's shiny and doesn't have a little mark on the screen that looks just like a stray apostrophe.

Now, let's see if I can find anything ...

Oh yes, here's a short story competition, with a nice shiny prize.

And the picture is of a shiny new day.

Monday, 21 October 2013

All at Sea

Here's a competition to write a romance set at the seaside. Appropriately the prize is a romantic break at the seaside - or at least it could be romantic if you take the right person. There's also some cash for 1st, 2nd and 3rd. If I'm not around for a while, you'll know I'm doing research for this one ;-)

Life at sea is the theme of this competition, which has £1,000 as the top prize, plus three more decent prizes in both the fiction and poetry categories.

I did write a story about life at sea. Even though it's romantic I can't enter it in either competition as it's already been published. Suppose I'd better get on a write another one - after the appropriate research of course.

Gary, where are you?

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Something new

Here's a competition for new (or unpublished) writers to win a writing course (via email or post) All you have to do is say why you'd like to win. 

This one is for writers using 'new' media. Interactivity is a key element of this apparently. The prizes are good; £1,000 for the overall winner, £250 people's choice award and for a qualifying entrant there's also the chance of a 3 month paid work placement.

Here are some new pigs (new as in young, they're an old breed) I have to look at cute animals as research for my new book.

What's new with you?

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Keep going

Keep is a good word (not least because it gives me another chance to post a photo of a castle - do you know which one?)

It means to continue to have something, to save something for future use, store in a regular place (we keep The Sphere in the garage), continue in a particular position or activity (she kept her head down) or to remain in good condition (fresh bread doesn't keep very long). It can also mean to do something you promised to do (I keep my promises) to provide accommodation and food - or the money for those things (he earns his keep)

If you have a friend with enough money you could be a kept woman. You might want to keep up to date, or with the Jones'. Or perhaps you'll attend keep fit classes (which generally means get slightly less unfit rather to maintain an existing state of fitness in my experience) and of course it's the strongest part of a castle.

Not bad for just four letters, eh?

One thing I keep doing is entering competitions. This one has a £500 prize, plus a place on an Arvon course. This regular one - you could sat it keeps going ;-) offers a voucher worth £150 each month. This one offers a £50 prize and gives a list of themes to keep away from. Writing something for this one might keep you awake at night. That has a £50 prize too. As always, they're free to enter.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013


A secret is something that's kept, or intended to be kept, from most people. You might think the meaning of the word isn't a secret, but switching on the television or picking up a newspaper or magazine will soon show how wrong you are. Almost every day someone will be offering to share their secrets of success, beauty secrets, reveal whose secret love child they are etc etc.

Here's a top tip, if you want to keep something secret, don't give the details to the papers, or TV reporter. If you want lots of people to know, then what you're offering isn't a secret - it's a tip, piece of advice, comment, item of gossip or most frequently a blatant publicity stunt. (Maybe I should have picked cynical as this week's word?)

Now don't tell right, this is just between us - I've found out about a short story competition. The entry process is a bit complicated, but you could win £1,000.

Julia Hones told me about this poetry competition with a $100 prize. I'm sure she won't mind me sharing it with you.

Friday, 4 October 2013

On the up?

Are there more free to enter writing competitions than there used to be, or am I just getting better at spotting them?

The second round of this short story contest is now open, there's a bunch of poetry competitions here, here's another short story one, and another poetry one and another for short stories (you'll need to get a child to write it for you though) and one for travel writing.

Do you know of any I've missed?

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Ups and downs

It's the first Wednesday of the month, so it's Insecure Writer's Support Group time.  Am I feeling insecure? Yes, sometimes - about as often as I get a story rejected and that happens quite often. I imagine it'll keep happening as long as I keep sending stuff out.

I get acceptances too though. To prove it there's a story of mine in this month's Woman's Weekly Fiction Special. It seems wrong to have favourite stories, but if I did then this would be one of them.

Alfie Dog Fiction have taken some more of mine, too.

Getting an acceptance cheers me up and the effect lasts long enough to counteract the next few rejections. Competition wins would have the same effect, I'm sure. That's why I've already sent an entry to this one (which has books as the prize), will be trying this one (with £100 prize), and this (to win a residential writing course). As with all the competitions I feature, these are free to enter.