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.)

Wednesday, 21 June 2017


An apochromatic lens is one which reduces spherical and chromatic aberrations. (The first part is where stuff looks a weird shape in the photo despite being fine in reality and the other bit is that weird purple haze you sometimes see round the edges of photographic subjects.)

Although that definition gives me a reasonable excuse to post a photo of The Sphere, I have resisted. Instead I've used my own apochromatic lens to photograph a grapefruit. See, no aberrations!

Yes, I am married to a photographer and yes, the poor chap has been interogated mercilessly as I've worked on my latest novel, which features a photographer. Thanks for asking.

Monday, 19 June 2017

£500 for 25 words

Yes, there really is a free to enter writing competition which offers a £500 prize for just 25 words.

And yes, of course there are catches. Published authors aren't eligible (obviously that's only a catch if you are a published author, otherwise it's a jolly good thing) and the 25 words have to, somehow, be a novel.

I'm not eligible, which means I don't have to own up to the fact that I don't think I could come up with an entry, even if I were. Oh...

Paint Me A Picture is just over 101,000 words. That's after I edited it down from over 135,000. What's the biggest cut (words or percentage) you've made to one of your stories?

Saturday, 17 June 2017

A regular thing

Writing Writers run a monthly competition with cash prizes for both short stories and poetry.

Sometimes there's a theme or prompt, but not for June. Feel free to use this photo to get you started (I'll expect you to report back if it helps you create a piece which gets accepted anywhere).

Wednesday, 14 June 2017


To revivify is to restore to animation, activity or vigour. If I ever felt in need of revivification, I'd head off to the coast somewhere in the van.

As it is, I don't really need to be revivified, so I'm going to have to come up with another excuse.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Ideas on I.D.

The word factory are running a monthly flash fiction competition. You have up to 500 words to write on the theme of identity, citizenship and belonging. This theme may be interpreted in any way you like. There are prizes.

Thanks to Alyson for passing on the link.

I belong in the van, so I'm sometimes a temporary citizen of the place identified by this flag. Do you recognise it?

Friday, 9 June 2017

A fluffy (and cute) metaphor?

This duckling is tiny and weighs only a few grammes, yet still created a huge bow wave across the lake.

There must be a metaphor, or simile, or something in that, don't you think?

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Secure for sea!

It's the first Wednesday of the month, so time for another Insecure Writer's Support Group post. It's also nearly time for Gary and I to head off for another adventure in our campervan (which I think gives me an excuse to post a few pictures of the last one!)

As I was loading up the van, it occurred to me there are similarities with writing. Gathering together everything we want to take is rather like getting the first draft down.

As things are packed away, I'm likely to realise there are items I've forgotten and I may well have duplicate items, or stuff which won't be needed for that particular trip. Putting it right is similar to editing our story.

Once everything is in (which might require cutting down to just the essentials if I've written/packed too much) we have to ensure everything is 'secure for sea'. That's the phrase Gary uses to mean that nothing is going to fall or break during our travels – which often do include ferry crossings. The writing equivalent is double checking the address to send our work to, whether it needs to be in a particular format, making sure we've included everything we should and nothing we shouldn't.

What do you do to ensure your story is ready for its journey from your keyboard to the desk of the editor, publisher or competition judge?

Would you like to see pictures from the next trip?

Monday, 5 June 2017

First steps

If you've not yet recieved a fee for your writing, and are over 16, then you are eligible to enter this short story competition. The theme is 'journeys'. There's a £1,500 first prize!

Totally unrelated(!) to the above, is a reminder that the ebook version of Can't Choose Your Family is still on sale for 99p (99c) but only until tomorrow night.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

A baby donkey etc

Ha! I knew I could lure you onto the blog with a photo of a sweet baby animal.

Really it's just a crafty ploy to remind you that my latest short story collection is on sale for just 99p (99c) for a couple more days.

But now you're here, I'm sure some of you will be able to come up with witty, cute, or daft captions for some of these pictures...

Wednesday, 31 May 2017


There are several definitions of the word family. It can be used to describe all the languages derived from the same earlier language, a group of objects distinguished by common features, and a group of related genera in an order or taxonomic collection (the daisy family, cat family etc).

The most common and familiar use though is for a group of people. That's the meaning I had in mind for my set of family themed short story collections. The latest* of these, Can't Choose Your Family, is available now. For this week, the kindle version is on sale for 99p (or 99c). Usual price will be £1.99 ($2.99)

In order to define family, my dictionary starts off by mentioning parents and their children, but families come in a huge variety of combinations. There may be one parent, or none. Perhaps it's step-parents, or grandparents who raise the children. Maybe there aren't any children. I feel that a family can be any group of people related by birth or marriage, or possibly even by circumstance.

No Family Secrets was the first. Does that make it a big sister to the second one?

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Pays to be early

Here's a travel writing competition with a $200 first prize. It's free to enter, but only if you submit by 31st May. If you want another couple of months to work on your piece, you'll have to pay an entry fee.

You may include up to three photos - which I'm taking as permission to do the same thing.

 If you're wondering about the location, here's a clue - walk carefully past the dragons.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Waxing lyrical

Here's a poetry competition with a £40 prize for the winner and another £40 for the top UK poet (if these are the same person, they'll get £80 and there will then be a £10 second prize.) That double incentive has encouraged me to have a go.

The first entry is free. You can submit up to two more poems, but if you do then you'll need to pay an entry fee.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017


Correctitude means correctness and especially concise correctness of conduct. That's a pleasingly alliterative phrase, but not somehing I feel able to demonstrate photographically. Or at all.

Oh look - a squirrel!

Sunday, 21 May 2017


I'm in Wales conducting novel research.

It's a tough job being a writer.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Wednesday, 17 May 2017


A few days ago I mistyped the word entertainment as entrainment. No wiggly red line appeared underneath, so I realised it was an actual word. One I didn't know. As I'm just a little odd, I was rather pleased with that ... until I looked it up.

It means to get on a train. Why that should disappoint me I can't really say.

Entrain can also mean to drag along, or when applied to a fluid, to carry particles along in its flow. Eg The tea leaves were entrained from the pot into the cup.

Oh! I've just cheered myself up by remembering I took a photo (OK lots) of a steam train in Scotland. Three points if you can name it.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Happy birthday!

No, it's not my birthday, but that of Alfie Dog Fiction. Don't let that stop you sending me cake though, as I was their very first author, so it's an anniversary for me too.

To celebrate their first five years, Alfie Dog are having an online party (You're all invited!) They will also be running special features, offering discounted stories and giving away books. News of all these things will be posted on the website and on social media.

The photo shows Wilma (a friend of Alfie Dog's) myself and Rosemary J Kind. Between us, Rosemary and I wrote Alfie Dog Fiction's first ever non fiction book. (It's about writing fiction, so it does make sense for the company to publish it – honest.)

Will you be joining in the Alfie Dog celebrations?

Friday, 12 May 2017

Cafe Culture

Thanks to Alyson for sending me details of this free entry short story competition. The prize is £500 and you have until the end of October to come up with a submission.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017


Doesn't supermundane sound soooo boring? Actually it means out of this world or superior to earthly things. And that makes it jolly difficult to illustrate.

This is Arbroath Abbey. We enjoyed our visit there very much - definitely closer to super than to mundane.