Friday, 18 August 2017

Will you boost the prize?

Thanks to Beatrice Charles for sending me the details of this blogging/essay competition. There's a top prize of up to $2500 for a 600 to 1500 piece on the following topics -

  1. "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln. Do you agree?
  2. "Nobody realises that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal." - Camus. Discuss.
  3. Should the role of education be to prepare students for working life, or to broaden their mind?
  4. "No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally - and often far more worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond." - C.S. Lewis. Discuss

Beatrice says, 'There are categories also for child and YA writers. In particular they seem to encourage schools to enter. If numbers allow then they will match prizes to school or educational charity (although in previous years this hasn't happened as far as I can tell).

Prizes vary according to number of entrants. So the adult prize is between $250 -$2500

It may interest some of your contacts, and the more who enter the better the awards.'

I'm not sure I'll enter the competition, but the topics would also make great fiction prompts.

The photo shows me facing no kind of adversity, putting no effort into doing what's become normal for me lately... Oh dear, that isn't helping establish a link. Thank goodness for C.S. Lewis - I'm fifty and I read books. Phew!

Wednesday, 16 August 2017


A lodestar is a star used to help navigate at sea. It's usually the polestar, but not neccesarily. It can also be a guiding principle, or object of pursuit.

A lode is a vein of metal ore. Presumably some lodestars have lodes. Perhaps even loads of them.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Still travelling

I'm still away having fun editing and researching really hard, in remote locations. I'll be back in the land of lots of wi-fi soon and will be back to replying to your comments and reading other people's blogs soon, I promise.

 And almost certainly sharing lots more pictures from the trip.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017


An engram might not be an actual thing but if it is, it's a memory-trace – a permanent change in the brain which would account for the existence on memory.

I have lots of great memories and this photo represents many of them - they're some of the flowers from our wedding. They were grown in our garden and delivered to the venue in our campervan to an event shared with friends and family.

Obviously there was cake involved and I even signed a copy of my first novel which was released earlier that year. Oh, and my dress was purple.

What do you think? Do the things we experience physically change our brains in some way?

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

What helps?

The Insecure Writer's Support Group is great at making writers realise they're not alone with their insecurities – and for offering help and support.

I'm wondering, what's the most supportive thing that's ever been done or said to you with regard your writing?

For me, it was when Gary and I were discussing what should go on our wedding certificate for our occupations. Although I had a day job at the time, he suggested writer.

Monday, 31 July 2017

Off the radar

Apologies for the lack of response to your comments recently – internet access is very limited in the Outer Hebrides. We're managing to find things to do offline though!

Wednesday, 26 July 2017


Another Scottish word I've learned on my travels is smirs, which was taught to me by Dawn Brown (who also introduced me to some jolly good home baking). According to the dictionary, smir (or smirs, or even smirrs) is a form of light drizzle. Dawn tells me 'it's down from dreich, but up from scotch mist'.

It was smirring when we visited Crichton Castle. After it had smirred, the sun came out for us at Melrose Abbey.

Friday, 21 July 2017

The heat is on

This competition is for a piece of 'women's fiction' up to 2,500 words. Apparently this is 'the ultimate literary challenge'.

The prize is a mentoring session with Paige Toon and publication of your short story as an ebook, for which you might earn royalties.

I say 'might' not because I think the publishers won't honour that part of the deal, but simply because I'm uncertain that people will buy a single short story for £1.99. That seems a bit steep to me. Or maybe I'm under valuing my own short story collections? They're on offer at £1.99 too, but there are at least 24 stories in each.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017


I've been adding a few Scottish words to my vocabulary during my travels. I was introduced to guddle by Rosemary Gemmell. In the context she used it, guddle means a mess (as in an untidy room – and no she wasn't describing the interior of our van!) and/or a complex and confusing situation.

guddle is also a type of fish which can be caught by guddling. The guddling is done with bare hands so quite messy and the word apparently derives from making a mess around water – which is handy for me, as I've recently taken photos of various watery subjects in Scotland.

Monday, 17 July 2017


No, I'm not suggesting you give up writing. Quite the opposite.

This competition has a writing retreat in Dorset as its prize. Just imagine a few days away with nothing to do but write. If you won that, you'd have time to write something you could submit for this competition.

Ah. Anyway, here's a photo of my mobile writing retreat. Aren't I lucky?

Friday, 14 July 2017

A freebie

My short story collection, Up The Garden Path is currently FREE!

If you enjoy it, please do leave a review on Amazon.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017


An undertow is a current, below the surface of the sea, which is moving in a different direction to that of the surface current.

Today is our fith wedding anniversary – and the sixth anniversary of the day Gary proposed to me at sea. It happened just about here.

Feel free to complain about that news not being current, or suggest I've had him under tow ever since.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Tangling with Scott

Here's another of the places we've visited on our trip which has a literary connection. Dryburgh Abbey is the final resting place of Sir Walter Scott.

His tomb is behind the red and white sign on the right in this photo. (The other is for Field Marshall Douglas Haig.)

Scott wrote the lines "Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!" I wonder if he was thinking about plotting his novels at the time? I certainly manage to get some of my outlines into tangled webs.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Waiting impatiently

It's Insecure Writer's Support Group time again. Do sign up for the group if you're an insecure writer (which I reckon is just about every writer for at least some of the time).

Just sending off a piece of writing gives us plenty of 'opportunities' for insecurity. Did we follow all the guidelines or competition rules? Have we correctly interpreted the requirements? Is the formatting right?

If there's no immediate acknowledgement we worry it hasn't arrived. Then we convince ourselves it has and whoever is reading it hates it. After a while we start to wonder if the reply got lost. Should we chase up a response?

How do you distract yourself from worrying about your submitted work?

What do you do if replies don't come – and how soon do you do it?

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

A good excuse?

I've been posting some of my travel pictures on Facebook, but there's a literary connection with these, so I think it's fair enough to put them on the blog ...

This is a statue of William Wallace. The words on the statue's base (which admittedly you can't see) are by the poet James Thomson. There's also a poem about Wallace, by The Earl of Buchann, on the urn.

Further down the hill ( a lot further and it's a steep hill, especially going back up) is a temple of the muses, which the Earl built as a memorial to Thomson.

You might be thinking you've never come across James Thomson's work – unless you already knew he wrote the words to Rule Brittannia.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Limericks in limerick

The Limerick literary festival will include a limerick competition. There's a €500 prize and it's free to enter. The 'rules and guidlines' contain useful information about the structure of a limerick and tips on crafting a good one.

The only very slight snag is that to compete in the final, you'll have to go to Limerick.  

I'm not suggesting that going to Limerick is in any way a bad thing, but the date might not be convenient for everyone. I'll be elsewhere at the time myself, so can't enter. That's a pity, because I've already made a start. Perhaps you'd like to help me finish it?

There was an odd writer with a campervan
Whose poems hardly ever properly scan

Friday, 30 June 2017

Going on about getting out

I blogged about this competition earlier in the year, but as there's a month to go until it closes, I thought it was worth mentioning it again for those who missed it the first time round and as a reminder to those who didn't.

They're looking for travel writing, but this can be fact or fiction. First prize is £100.

Another thing I've mentioned before is my own travelling.  Here's a photo from one of my trips. Do you recognise the location?

Wednesday, 28 June 2017


Suilline simply means of the pig family. You know, like feline for cats, caprine for goats, equine for horses and supine for blocked writers.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Let's hear it

Soundworks have a monologue competition, for pieces of up to 15 minutes on any theme. The winning piece will be recorded and published on the site.

Previously published work is accepted.

This photos isn't of a monologue, but multiple logs. Sorry.

Actually I'm not really sorry, I'm cackling to myself in a slightly disturbing way.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Good odds

There's still time to enter the Senior Travel Experts travel writing competition.

The organiser says, "because of the very specific theme of the competition - Travel for Seniors - entries are much down on previous competitions. 

Hence you have a much better chance of winning one of the 11 prizes on offer and getting your article published. The first prize is £100 and there are 10 runner-up prizes of £10 each. Competition entry is of course free of charge."

Thursday, 22 June 2017

We're at the seaside!

Here are a few recent photos from our travels in the van. (Dover, Dunkirk, Deal, Smallhythe)

If you can't get away to the beach yourself (or even if you can) you might be interested in this book of holiday reads which is currently free to download. (There's one of my stories in it.)