Saturday, 31 January 2015

Quoting authors

Gary and I do quite a few quizzes. Recently a question began, 'Which author is quoted as saying, 'I can resist anything but temptation'?' I got it right. Of course I did. Oscar Wilde is always the answer to that type of question.

Now I don't dispute he wrote those words and I'm prepared to accept it may be an idea he had sympathy with, but he didn't really say it, did he? His character did. The same is true of many Oscar Wilde quotes.

Other authors too have their character's words directly attributed to them. Is this fair? Must we be held to account for everything our bad guys say and do, even if we've punished them ourselves or had them see the light by the end of the final chapter?

Something Oscar Wilde reputedly said himself, rather than via a character was during a customs check. 'I have nothing to declare but my genius'.  I can't use that one myself*, so here's a picture of me not resisting temptation.

*as I'm sooooo much more complex ;-)

Do you have any favourite, or funny, literary quotes?

Wednesday, 28 January 2015


A pipedream is an unattainable or purely fanciful hope or idea. You know, like the hope that when you upgrade one thing on your computer you won't discover your printer, working practices, hair colour and country of residence are all incompatable and need to be changed before you can do so much as open an email.

Compared with that, becoming a successful novelist seems a perfectly reasonable plan.

I did know the meaning of the word pipedream, but not its origin. It comes from the visions or hallucinations experienced by people smoking opium pipes. Obvious when I think about it - presumably I never had before.

Here's an opium poppy, I grew this year. Even without smoking them they raise my spirits.

Do you have any pipedreams, or perefectly reasonable plans, you'd like to share? (If it involves getting your poems published, a mentor to help with that and finacial assistance while you do it, click here)

Tuesday, 27 January 2015


No, I didn't sneeze, Kishboo is the name of a fairly new online writing magazine. It's free to read online.

The second issue is out now and contains an article by me about the advantages of entering writing competitions, plus plenty more interesting pieces. There's also a review of my novel, Paint Me a Picture.

The editors are keen to recieve more submissions of articles and reviews. They don't pay, but include blog links and the like if you have something to publicise.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Can I just mention ...

This is a blatant advert for my latest short story to be published on Alfie Dog Fiction. You'll let me get away with a self promotional post now and then, won't you?

Listen To Me (and over 100 more of my other stories) are available to download for 39p.

If you've somehow avoided downloading my free short story collection Not a Drop to Drink, you could get that whilst you're on the Alfie Dog site, or download it from Amazon if you prefer.

update! Thanks to Sheila Crosby for reminding me about this novel writing competition. I saw it ages ago and completely forgot about it. It's too good to miss though, so I'm getting an entry together RIGHT NOW!

Friday, 23 January 2015

Little details

There's still time to enter this competition and be in with the chance to win £500 and a place on an Arvon course.

Top tip - write competition entries far enough in advance that you have time to leave them for a day or two and read them through just before sending them in. I did that with my entry and found one silly typo and that I'd managed to spell one character's name wrongly on two occasions.

Do such details really matter? Well, if two entries are otherwise tied then the typo free one will have an advantage, but it's not just that.

Look at the picture. It's OK, isn't it?

Can you see something sticking out of the horse's back? It's a telegraph pole. And what's that black bit right at the bottom? Neither totally ruin the photograph, but they're a bit distracting once you've noticed them, aren't they?

I'm declaring this 'find and fix a typo Friday'.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015


Slight means of little consequence, barely perceptible or scanty. If a person is described as slight they'll be slender or frail looking. If you refer to someone slightingly you'll be treating them as though they're insignificant. I think that's more than slightly rude.

Historically castles were slighted to make them useless for military purposes. This kind of damage can be seen at Kenilworth. (There are more shots of the castle and it's grounds on my gardening blog)

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Keeping it real.

If anything particularly shocking, unusual, weird or gruesome has happened to you, you could sell your story to a magazine. There are a lot of reasons why you might want to - 2,000 of them if the rumours I've heard about payment are true. You might wish to raise awareness of an issue or condition (medical stories are popular) or just see your name in print.

There are also some perfectly good reasons to keep quiet, so think carefully before clicking 'submit'.

Has anything hair raising ever happened to you - and would you consider going public if you had a suitable story?

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Southern Pacific

Thank you to Julia Hones for telling me about this competition. (I really appreciate people passing on the details of any free to enter writing competitions or opportunities they come across)

There's a prize of £100 on offer and as Julia said, you don't need to be Latin American to enter and neither do you have to use the southern Pacific as your theme ... a bit like I didn't when selecting the illustration for the post.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Sexy sentences!

Thanks to Beatrice Charles and Helen Yendall for bringing this competition to my attention. It's free to enter and there's a £1,000 top prize, plus runner up ones of £500 and you only need to write 750 - 1,000 words ... which is the good news!

Bad news is that it needs to be in by 23rd January (via email) oh and it's erotica! Well of course that won't be bad news to some people, but it's a challenge to me as that's not a genre I've written in before*. There's a first time for everything though, right?

Can't stop - I'm off to do some research. Behave! I only meant reading the advice on the website!

*Actually I did try once and it was dreadful. I don't think I'll try again - I've come out in a rash of exclamation marks, just at the thought!

Wednesday, 14 January 2015


Mutable doesn't mean 'able to be muted' which would have been my guess. It actually means liable to change or fickle. The meaning of words can change (wicked, gay, nice) so if mutable is a word which exhibits mutability, I might eventually be right.

Tulip flowers are mutable; often changing colour as they age or 'breaking' into intricate patterns as a reaction to a virus.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Spooky stuff

I've been placed 5th in the latest Spinetinglers competition. You can read my entry here. It's a monthly competition, free to enter and offers prizes from £100 for first place down to £25 for 5th. The results are announced quickly too.

I don't write many ghost stories. Can't think why as I visit plenty of places which look as though they could be haunted. Perhaps I need another trip for inspiration? (any excuse!)

Monday, 12 January 2015

Appliance of science

Thanks to Suzy for reminding me about this sci-fi competition. There's a £200 prize. I don't write much science fiction, but I have sent something in. It's good to try something different, isn't it?

I'm always pleased to hear about free to enter writing competitions. My email address is in 'contact me' or just leave the details in a comment.

Do you know what the photo is of? Or maybe you'd like to make up an answer, possibly to use as an entry for the competition.

Friday, 9 January 2015

Restricted entry

Some competitions have restrictions placed on who can enter. That's annoying if you don't qualify, but helps your chances if you do.

You need to be a resident of Hampshire (UK) to enter this poetry competition. There are £50 on offer in both under and over 16s categories. If you're from the north of England, take a look here for a chance to win a share of the £40,000 worth of awards. Living anywhere in the UK or Ireland qualifies you for this chance at £3,000 in different categories.

This competition is for those with an African connection. The prize is £10,000.

Sixth formers studying English might be interested in this one. There's £1,000 on offer. 16-18 year old poets could win up to £3,000 here.  Too young for those? Then try this. £2,000 is on offer.

To balance things out a bit, this one is only open to those over 16. The only other restrction is the usual one about not being connected to the organisers (which seems fair enough, but I'm sure is frustrating for some)

Would you like to see more, or less, restrictions?

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Too early for insecurities

It's the first Wednesday of the month, so time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group post. It's also the first Wednesday of a brand new year though, so it's too early for insecurities. There are twelve fresh, shiny months ahead of us to achieve our aims, get over our bad habits and find reasons to feel good about our writing, our lives and ourselves.

My main resolution this year is not to waste time. Reading a book I enjoy isn't a waste of time, nor is writing a story I could submit somewhere, or setting off in the van for a trip, or having a laugh with a friend.

Internet quizzes I have no interest in the answer to, constantly checking my Amazon ratings, comparing myself with anyone else and all the other 'stuff' that's neither productive or fun are a waste of time. I'm going to make a real effort to realise when that's what I'm doing and stop!

The other resolution is to enter more of the free to enter writing competitions I keep blogging about - like this one which offers the chance to win £500 for just 100 words.

Friday, 2 January 2015

La Palma with Sheila Crosby

A few weeks ago I went to La Palma and met up with my writing friend Sheila Crosby. She gave us a fantastic personal tour of the highlights of the Island including the observatory where she works, the volcanic crater, fantastic vertigo inducing scenery, the 'youths' at the very top of the Island, the local crows Sheila has partly tamed, the busy capital where historic balconies are home to amazing floral displays, horizontal water mines ...

It was my first visit to La Palma, but in a way Sheila had already taken me on a tour of the Island in her lovely book, The Seer's Stone. In it I read how the geography was formed from volcanic eruptions, about some of its political history and was introduced to a few of the people, plants and creatures who've made La Palma their home.

Oh and Mr Pock-Pock a rather sweet alien, Carmelo a talking crow and a thief stopping, cheese toasting dragon.

I really enjoyed reading Sheila's stories and I loved seeing a few of the places they were set. 

The aliens and dragons have long since left La Palma, but Carmelo is still there and I met him! His beak looks terrifying, but he took food from my hand very gently.

Do you like our carefully synchronised mad red hair looks?

Having seen the island I fully understand why Sheila wanted to write about it.

And having been given a fascinating glimpse into the observatory, I see why she wanted to write about that too, in A Breathtaking Window on the Universe. 

Sheila writes Sci-fi as well. Again, I suspect La Palma and the observatory were contributing factors. There are some strange looking, and sounding, things up there!

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Happy New Year!

A new year is a chance to start a fresh chapter in our lives. How are you going to write yours?

One of my aims for 2015 is to enter more of the free to enter writing competitions I blog about. Talking of which, here's one with a $100 prize.