Friday, 20 October 2017

First timers

If you've not yet had work published in any format and never won a writing competition, then I strongly urge you to take a look here. 

There's £300 on offer for the winner, plus runner up prizes of £50. Your story can be up to 3,000 words in length and it's free to enter. You don't even need to print out your work or find a stamp.

If you're eligible to enter and don't have a try, you'll make me feel as sad as this chap.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Hysteron proteron

This is a figure of speech in which the natural order of events is reversed. It occurs in well known phrases sich as 'born and bred' 'put on your shoes and socks' and 'thunder and lightning'.

Be careful of accidental hysteron proteron in your writing, for example 'Fred jumped in the air. A loud crash from the dropped tray of glasses had startled him.' Unless you have a good reason for doing things differently, cause should come before result.

Can you think of other examples of hysteron proteron?

Monday, 16 October 2017

Growing Green

Thanks to Beatrice for passing on the details of the Green Parent writing competition. They're looking for articles of between 500 and 2,500 words on the theme of natural parenting. 

There's publication and £150 for the winner. 10 runners up will also be published with 'a hearty byline'. (I'll be interested to see how much more substantial that is compared to the regular kind.)

As well as pregnancy, childbirth and education, suggested topics are alternative health, sustainable lifestyles, green travel and gardening.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Thank you!

Thank you so much to everyone for the help you're giving me in spreading the word about Leave Nothing But Footprints! I really appreciate all the tweets, retweets, likes, shares, comments etc over on Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks also to Diane Burton for hosting a blog post on my reasons for writing this particular story. To Anne Rainbow for interviewing me about my research process, Alex Cavanaugh for the mention and Mac Wheeler for one of his special shout outs. 

On Monday Tara Watson is hosting a post about what it's like to work in the campervan and the few ways in which the story is similar to my own life.

Without your support, my marketing campaign has simply consisted of photos I took whilst researching the book.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Lovely shiny new book

My latest novel is out now today! 

Leave Nothing But Footprints is a romance. A lot of the action takes place, in a campervan, in South Wales. There are photographers, lovely views, yummy food, long walks, wildflowers, deer, mud, cocktails, beaches... The research was soooo tough!

Jessica Borlase always gets what she wants. From cocktails in the exact shade of her manicure, holiday on Capri with friends, to a spacious apartment, her father's money makes it possible. She enjoys the luxurious lifestyle and is grateful for his support, but frustrated to always be treated as Daddy's pampered little girl. She tries to break free, by leaving Borlase Enterprises and studying photography.

Now what Jess wants is the utterly gorgeous Eliot Beatty; a world famous photographer who often uses his talents to benefit conservation projects. Her father attempts to bribe Eliot into taking Jess on an assignment in order to teach her the skills she'll need to develop a career. Although annoyed at the interference, she's delighted to discover this means two weeks with Eliot in the beautiful countryside of South Wales and close confines of a campervan. Trouble is, the man can't be bought.

Jess eventually manages to persuade Eliot to take her. She believes she can earn his respect and that she's ready for the hard work, long hours and living conditions far short of those she's used to. She's wrong on all counts. Can Jess learn to cope with the realities of the trip, and is Eliot really worth the effort?

You can probably see how I got the idea for this one – but I promise it's not autobiographical.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017


A gadabout is a person who gads about. Obvious when you think about it, isn't it? Well, that's unless you're not entirely sure what gadding about involves. Fortunately I'm a gadabout myself (even when writing my books) and therefore able to enlighten you.

To gad is to go about in search of pleasure, or idle wandering and adventure. A person doing this can be said to be 'on the gad'. I have gadded on numerous occasions.

After writing it in all it's forms, I'm no longer sure I like the word gadabout and would rather you thought of me as the travelling writer.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Coming very soon...

It's been almost two years since the last one, but finally I can say my latest novel is out this week! (It can be 'Pre ordered' here.)

Leave Nothing But Footprints is a romance about photographers working from a campervan and is set in Wales.

Anything you can do to help spread the word will be greatly appreciated.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

West Country writers wanted

Thanks to Gail Aldwin for passing on the details of this novel writing competition. Unfortunately (as I'm in the South East) it's only eligible to authors in the South West of England, who have a book which is either locally or self published.

The prize is £1,000.

Ah well, I've been to the West Country, so at least I have an excuse to post more of my travel photos.

If you'd like to write in the West Country, then you might be interested in a Writer's Workshop Weekend next March. It isn't free, but it's going to be excellent!

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Letting things slip

"Have you ever slipped any of your personal information into your characters, either by accident or on purpose?"

I don't think it's possible, nor desirable, to avoid putting a little of ourselves into our writing. We wouldn't, for example, give a character views we strongly disagreed with. Or rather we might, but then they'd be the bad guy, or someone who later realised the error of their ways, or got their comeuppance.

Allowing readers to get a glimpse of my personality and opinions doesn't bother me. Writing is all about sharing what's inside our hearts and heads, isn't it? 

I write about subjects which interest me and I research the places and activities featured in my stories, wherever possible. That often means using our campervan (aka the mobile writing retreat) to work 'on location' and taking photographs to jog my memory later. (The nearest I have to a day job is acting as my photographer husband's assistant.)

What does concern me a little is that readers may think more of my work is based on reality than is actually the case. That has happened in the past and as my latest novel Leave Nothing But Footprints is a romance about photographers in a campervan, I can't help thinking it might happen again.

Being familiar with living in a campervan, having a professional photographer to advise on technical aspects, and setting the story in one of my favourite areas helped a lot with the writing. And I confess, just a few of the small incidents may have happened to me.

But the storyline isn't autobiographical. The van isn't even the same model as ours (well, not the current one anyway). I'm not Jess and Eliot isn't my husband. You do believe me, don't you?

This post is part of the Insecure Writer's Support Group monthly blog hop. If you're a writer, or would like to support writers, then do consider joining.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Guest post by competition winner Lindsay Bamfield

Today's post is by Lindsay Bamfield.

You can learn a lot from Patsy’s blog. Unusual words, pictures of all sorts of interesting places and details of writing competitions. Not just competitions but free-to-enter competitions. Some ask for just a few words while others require mighty essays. Patsy includes non-fiction competitions and fiction embracing all sorts of genres so there’s something for everyone. Some prizes might be modest but others can be serious money. Many aren’t for me, but I have entered two or three, and have now won one.

I love writing and I love travelling, so the competition for the Senior Travel Expert website, leapt out at me. Entrants didn’t have to be a ‘senior’ traveller to enter the competition, although I do qualify on that score! I’d just returned from Uzbekistan and I quickly jotted a piece, not about the place but about travelling with groups of people who were, as our lovely (young) guide phrased it, of an elegant age. I’m going to use that phrase a lot from now on. I played around with the piece for a few days, deleting and adding, and eventually pressed send. And I won. At least, I half-won. Two of us were deemed winners so we shared the prize! You can see both pieces on the Senior Travel Expert website.

Keep an eye on Patsy’s blog, because free competitions are a great way to get competition savvy. After all, what have you to lose? Having said that, free competitions need to be taken as seriously as any other with only your best attempts submitted, because some attract a large number of entries. And if you don’t win, chances are you can recycle your entry for another competition! 

*blushes* Thank you, Lindsay and congratulations once again on your win!

Friday, 29 September 2017

A tasty one

Ouen Press are running a short story competition with the theme of taste. Entries must be between 3,000 and 10,000 words. The prize is £300.

You have until the end of the year to enter. To take part you must be over 18 and alive.

Do you think those eligibility criteria are too strict?

Wednesday, 27 September 2017


Witter means to talk tediously about trivial matters. So I'm keeping this post short.

Monday, 25 September 2017

Do something nice

Thanks to Gail Aldwin for alerting me about this competition.

Publication and a £100 prize are on offer for the best 500 word story with a joyful or uplifting theme. They want stories of positivity, hope and living life to the full. 

There's no entry fee, but the competition is being run to spread awareness of blood stem cell donations (did you know you could donate stem cells?)

Entrants are asked to do one of several things before entering, such as registering as a donor, making a cash donation or doing a good deed.

I have a request. Even if you don't plan to enter, see if you can do a good deed today. Doesn't have to be much, just a gesture which makes someone else smile.

The photos are of Scarista beach (Harris, Outer Hebrides) - a joyfully uplifting place to visit.

Friday, 22 September 2017

Crossing the Tees

For this competition you're asked to write about crossing the Tees. Not in a dotting an i way, or traipsing over a golf course manner, but actually crossing the Tees. The prize is £100.

I haven't been to that area of the country, which is a drawback in writing about it. That's also a disadvantage when it comes to finding a suitable photo for this post. Which is why there isn't one and instead I've given you a photo of an early protype for Stonehenge.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017


A tee-hee is a titter, or restrained laugh. If you laugh in this way, you'll have tee-heed.

The site of this gull standing on tiptoes to look over a rock, gave me the tee-hees.

Come on, write something in the comments to get me tee-heeing.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Cafe stories

Comma press are running a short story competition with a £500 prize. The rules are slightly complicated, so read them carefully – as you always should for any competition! (details are in the second item on the link.)

Entries must be between 2,000 and 6,000 words and fit the theme of cafe stories.

Imagine having £500 to spend in a cafe! I'd buy tea and cake for my writing buddies. Who would you invite and/or what would you order?

Friday, 15 September 2017

Be quick!

There are only a couple of days to enter this competition. That's not the reason I'm giving it a miss though – they want writers to tell them a true story about a former love. True? I don't think so.

If you're happy to kiss and tell, and can make a good job of it in 700 words, you could win $100.

Here's Gary ... I was going to say he's my current love, but that sounds as though I'm planning to trade him in sometime, and I'm not. I could tell you some stories about him, but I'm not going to do that either.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017


Bordure is a heraldic term and refers to the border around a shield.

I don't seem to have a photograph of a bordure. Clearly I need to visit a lot more castles.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Coining it in

For this competition you're asked to write a short story (1,000 to 2,000 words) on the theme of coins.

The prize is £200, which is quite a lot of pennies. UK entrants only for this one.

I know you know what coins are, but I thought it would make a change to use a photo which wasn't from one of our campervan trips.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Race the whale, Honey

Helen Yendall is running another of her free, fun flash fiction competitions. There are Amazon vouchers and glory to be had!

Friday, 8 September 2017

Big cash prize

The Sunday Times are again running their short story competition. Entry is free and the prize is £30,000. Anyone over 18 can enter, as long as they have a track record of being published in the UK.

If I won £30,000 I'd spend it swanning around in the campervan. I know I do that quite a bit anyway, but with that kind of cash we could get the van to somewhere sunny for the winter - and buy much more cake, and wine which wasn't on special offer. (Not that I'm complaining about my current lifestyle - I'm very lucky to travel as much as I do.)

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

I hate marketing!

OK, maybe 'hate' is a bit strong, but I really don't like it.

Marketing takes up time which I'd rather spend writing, or going out in the campervan, being with my lovely husband, or writing in
the campervan, or taking photos, or eating yummy food ... But that's sort of OK. I understand that if I want to sell books I must do some promotion – and I do want my books to sell.

A major problem for me is that I don't know what works and what doesn't. If I mention in this post that I released a collection of 25 slightly spooky stories this week, and I get sales over the next few days, will that be because of the mention? Or due to the fact I announced it on twitter? Or Goodreads? Put a new page on my website? Due to one of my other marketing attempts? Or just because I've released a book and people magically know? (It's not that last one, is it?)

The other issue I have is not wanting to annoy people. I don't like reading constant 'buy my book' posts on social media, so it doesn't seem right to subject others to a bombardment. I really would hate friends to feel under pressure to buy my books, especially if they're not in a genre they enjoy ... but I don't want anyone to be unaware of new titles if they would like to read them.

And another thing ... It's not just a one off. I have a new novel coming out soon (a romance about photographers, which is set in a campervan and involves yummy food) and I'm working on more short story collections and another novel, and I still hope to sell more copies of my previous releases.

Marketing – that's my current, and no doubt ongoing, writing related insecurity. Maybe you share it? Perhaps you can offer help or advice (please!) You might even like to join the Insecure Writer's Support Group.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Something to aspire too.

Thanks to Gail Aldwin for alerting me about a competition - especially as it gives me a chance to post some of my pictures of Salisbury Cathedral from the time I climbed up inside the tower.

A spire, see? Oh, never mind ...

The free to enter competition is for short stories of up to 500 words. There are children's and an adult categories. UK residents only. 

The adult prize is publication and a writing course valued at £495. The runner up gets the same.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

The dark side.

If you can write a short (up to 7,500 words) crime or thriller story, you may be interested in this competition. The best 12 entries will be published in a collection from which the authors will earn royalties. As usual, with the competitions I blog about, it's free to enter. 

Not sure anything I write will be dark enough, but I intend to have a go. 

Friday, 1 September 2017

Catching up

I'm back from our trip to Scotland and the Outer Hebrides and trying to catch up with anything I've missed.
I'm not sure if I've already shared a link to this poetry competition, but as there's still time to have a go, I decided twice was better than not at all.

Anyone can enter and there's a cash prize. The first entry is free – you can send more poems, but that'll cost you.

I'm also sorting through the many, many photos I've taken over the last couple of months. Here are a few which I thought might work as writing prompts. Do let me know if you use them.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017


Audible means capable of being heard. If something happens audibly, that means it's audible. When a sound is indistinct, or simply not loud enough, you might complain about its audibility (creators of TV dramas don't seem to care about the audibleness of their product).

Audible is also an Amazon salesline, which enables subscribers to listen to a huge range of audio books for a monthly fee. They're currently offering a free trial.

From Story Idea to Reader is now available as an audio book (see my last post for more info) so if you'd like an audible version of the writing advice offered by myself and Rosemary J Kind, sign up now!

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Listen and learn

I'm delighted that From Story Idea to Reader, the accessible guide to writing fiction co-written by myself and Rosemary J. Kind is now available in an audio version. As Rosemary had all the hard work of organising this, it seemed only fair to give her the additional task of telling you about it...

Getting From Story Idea to Reader published as an audio book seemed the natural next step for what is proving a very popular book. Originally, we had seen it as being primarily for the UK market, but from the responses we’ve had from around the world, the style and writing advice are proving useful for a very wide audience.

When you’re putting an audio book together the first challenge is to find the right voice to record the book. Patsy and I did consider reading it ourselves, but rapidly concluded there were others out there far better qualified in that field. Charles W Hall, who narrates the book, has a lovely warm and expressive voice that is a perfect fit with our accessible writing style. He is American and we have had to explain the English pronunciation of some place names that we take for granted, but we’re very happy with the end result. Trying to explain how we say places like Peterborough and Swanwick that to me are obvious, did make me wonder how many American place names I might be mispronouncing!

For me, the funniest part of listening to someone else reading the book was the number of times I would suddenly think ‘That’s a good point’ almost as though it had been written by somebody else. I think the lesson in that is that as a writer it does no harm at all to refresh your knowledge at intervals and think about your writing. Although in reality the line that hit me hardest was one of Patsy’s in which she gives you permission to get up from your desk every once in a while and go and do something else. I think we can all be guilty of spending too long trying to concentrate when in fact taking some time away from our work might do us more good.

We have a limited number of codes for free copies if you would like to review the book on Audible. They are available on a first come first served basis for those who're willing and able to this relatively soon. If you are interested then email me at with ‘Audio Review’ in the title field.
From Story Idea to Reader is also available in paperback (£9.99) and ebook (£3.99) versions.

Monday, 28 August 2017

Best bank holiday reading?

It's a bank holiday and the weather isn't dreadful – I think I'll celebrate by sitting in the garden with a book. 

Which book do you think would make a perfect bank holiday garden read – and why? (Feel free to mention one of your own and add an Amazon link.)

I'll start off with Firestarter. It's romantic, fun, lots of it is set outdoors and there's plenty of yummy food and drink. And there's a hunky fireman. More than one, actually.

Mac Wheeler suggested Expiring Covenant.

Frances mentioned a selection, including  Basic Theology for Fallen Women.