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?

Friday, 13 February 2015

Dundee Book Prize

If you've completed your debut novel and would like to get a pubishing deal and £10,000 click here. You don't need to be from Dundee - entries are accepted from around the world.

I've been to Dundee, but somehow neglected to take any photos. That means you'll have to make do with this one I took on the way there and that I'll have to take my camera back to Scotland.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015


A tribute is a thing said, done or given as a mark of respect or affection. Followed by 'to' it's an indication of a praiseworthy quality (as an example, my dictionary gives 'their success is a tribute to their perseverance' which I particularly like). A tribute used to be how miners pay was calculated and could also mean a payment made by one state or ruler to another.

Tribute is also the make of our van (or do I mean model?)

Don't forget #writingchat tonight. The theme is 'what do you write?' and 'why?'

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Travelling writers wanted

Thank you to Julia Hones for finding another publication opportunity for me to share. This one is for factual travel pieces and pays $150 per article and $20 per photo. Hmmm, I'm sure I know a travelling writer who takes a lot of photos ...

Monday, 9 February 2015

Be quick for the Beeb

BBC radio are looking for stories of 1,900 to 2,000 words - but you'll need to move fast!

You've got a few more days for this one and there's a chance of winning £15,000.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Start 'em young!

Thanks to Maggie Storer for telling me about this children's writing competition. Children as young as 5 are encouraged to write 500 words. The prizes are stacks of books. Really big stack of books. *sigh* If I'd started writing aged 5 I might have written a massive stack of books by now.

Did you start writing as a child? (I didn't - mid 30s for me) Do you think it matters?

Friday, 6 February 2015

Fantasy date?

What's your perfect Valentine's date? Mine involves a certain photographer and non fiction writer, a bottle of wine, pizza ... you don't need all the details, you have imaginations.

This describes itself as a romantic novel flowchart and promises to reveal your perfect Valentine's experience. I'm not totally convinced and I'm even less sure they've picked the best possible examples of good romance novels, but it does offer the chance to win a £50 travel voucher.

Do you agree with the result - or can you come up with something better?

Lucy Oliver has details of cut priced reads, plus the chance of winning a kindle fire loaded with books. Now, doesn't that sound like something nice to cuddle up to on a cold winter's night?

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

It's a good thing

It's Insecure Writer's Support Group time again.
If you're a writer and ever feel insecure, you might like to consider joining us.

I don't believe there are any writers who never, ever feel insecure. We all invest time and emotion in our work. We care about our characters and try to do our best for them. We want readers to enjoy our words, or to be moved, informed or caused to think. 

Wondering if we've done that, and if we can do it again, is bound to cause insecurities. But that's OK. Better surely than writing without interest and no thought to the end result?

Insecurities alone are no good though, we need hope to. If you hope to get your first romantic novel published you might like this competition. There's a cash prize of £500 as well as a publishing deal and other benefits. (I'll be posting lots more free to enter writing competition links over the next few weeks)

Monday, 2 February 2015


Maria Smith and I were chatting on twitter the other day. She said there doesn't seem to be much chat about writing - just a lot of self promotion. I agree with her. There are plenty of adverts, quotes and repeatitive scheduled tweets, but very little engagement with other writers. So we've decided to see if we can do something about that.

If you'd like to join us, just log into twitter on Wednesday at 8 (in the evening, UK time) and tweet using the hashtag #writingchat. If it works out, we'll make it a regular thing. If we just end up talking to ourselves, just forget we ever thought of it, OK?