Friday, 16 March 2018

Not So Fantastic Plastic

Limnisa are running a writing competition, with a week's writing retreat in Greece (or online tutoring) as the prize. The theme is plastic. Thanks to Alyson Faye for bringing this competition to my attention.

You're probably aware that there's now a lot of plastic in our seas and that this is very bad for the creatures who live there (and ultimately for us). Please, please, please try to reduce your use of plastic, especially 'single use' items, such as lids on take away coffee cups, individual portions of milk and ketchup, drinking straws, plastic cutlery, excessive food wrap in supermarkets ...

Wednesday, 14 March 2018


If a person is froward, then they're perverse or difficult to deal with.

I'll admit that I occasionally act frowardly, but I don't think my overall character displays much forwardness.

The same is mostly true of Jess in my novel Leave Nothing But Footprints, but she does have her moments.

Don't we all?

Monday, 12 March 2018

Last woman standing?

Thanks to Alyson Hilbourne for letting me know about this competition from Dark Regions.

They're looking for stories about 'a sole survivor stranded on a deserted island'. The word count is from 10 to 1,000 words (yes, that's between ten and one thousand words). The best five stories will be published and gain a cash prize. First place wins $500 and it's free to enter.

You can write ten words, can't you?

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Celebration time?

"How do you celebrate when you achieve a writing goal / finish a story?"

For me, it's usually a cup of tea. Quite often there's cake too.

That question comes from the Insecure Writer's Support Group and if you're thinking you never have much to celebrate, then perhaps you'd like to join?

We tend to think success means winning first prize, selling a story, or getting a publishing contract. Of course such things are wonderful – but that doesn't mean anything less is failure.

We won't win every competition or find a buyer for everything we write, but that doesn't mean we're no good or are wasting our time.

It's VERY important to recognise every writing achievement, even if it's just thinking up a good title, or spotting and fixing a potentially embarrassing typo.

If we've done better than that and actually finished something and submitted it we should definitely celebrate. (And do so again if the piece is bought or placed.)

What's your most recent writing success or achievement and how did you celebrate?

Monday, 5 March 2018

Child's Play

For this competition from the Alpine Fellowship, you're asked to write about childhood. They're looking for something which shows, "an artisan’s humility alongside that spontaneous engagement with the work of making that rests securely upon the awareness of what Ezra Pound called ‘a live tradition’ – not as a set of limits, but as an invitation to explore, to make new and, most of all, to extend the musical possibilities of language." Hmmm. 

On the plus side, work need not be highly polished and the prize is £3,000. I have a sudden urge to explore and become securely aware ...

Friday, 2 March 2018


Craft are open to submissions of flash fiction and short stories, for which they pay a decent rate.

They're also running a competition, with a big cash prize - and a fairly hefty reading fee. I shall probably skip that one.

Whenever I think of 'craft' it conjurs up an image of some kind of needlework, though of course there are many other types of craft and meanings of the term. What does the word craft mean to you?

Wednesday, 28 February 2018


You've probably come across the word incorrigible, which means a person is unable to be changed, corrected or reformed. It makes perfect sense that corrigible means the opposite of this, but until I spotted it in the dictionary a few moments ago, I hadn't realised corrigible was an actual word.

I've changed since this photo was taken, so I must be corrigible – or at least, I was once!

Monday, 26 February 2018

Over the threshold

Thanks to Beatrice Charles for telling me about this free to enter, feature competition from Thresholds. There's £500 on offer for either the author profile of a short story writer*, or a personal reccomendation of either a collection of short stories or an individual story. You can submit up to three essays.

*I can think of at least one, who is jolly interesting...

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Purple Paisely

Today I have a guest post by Gail Aldwin (and not just because her book cover is purple!)

Hello Patsy,

Thank you so much for inviting me onto your blog to share my writing experiences. Paisley Shirt my collection of short fiction is now available on Amazon or it can be ordered from all good bookshops.

What is the process of putting a collection together?

I searched the range of short fiction I had written over time to find a thread that wove the stories together. I discovered resilience is a theme in my writing and this helped me to select the best pieces. Several of the stories have won or been placed in competitions I learnt about through Patsy’s blog. Others have been published online and print anthologies. This publication history helped to secure me the offer of a collection published by Chapeltown Books. (I notice Allison Faye was on Patsy’s blog recently – my collection is in the same series, hence the similar presentation.)

What are the highpoints and pitfalls of your writing journey?

You have to get your work out there in order to experience highpoints such as competition wins and publishing opportunities. Putting writing forward also means preparing for the pitfalls. Rejection is a professional hazard for a writer and as soon as I realised that success depends on the individual taste of an editor/judge, it helped me through the lows of writing stories that struggled to find a home. It’s even harder trying to place a novel that has been tirelessly worked on. Even when the writing is of publishable standard, the story won’t suit everyone.

Do you think of yourself as a writer?

I have always taken my writing seriously and see it as work rather than a hobby or distraction to fill time, but it has taken years to acknowledge that I am a writer. We have many roles in life from relationships with family members to paid and voluntary employment or educational studies. Although my role as a writer has been a priority, admitting this to others in social and professional contexts was something I avoided. It has always been much easier to say I am a student of creative writing or a tutor in creative writing. It was only upon acquiring representation by a literary agent that I began to tell people of my occupation as a writer. Representation did not last long as my agent took maternity leave and decided not to return to work but I still continue to consider myself a writer.

Can you describe your writing process? 

When I get an idea, I muse on it for a while, then I decide which style of writing the content is suited to. Fragments or moments lend themselves to poetry, short fiction needs a story arc, I usually work collaboratively to develop scripts and novels are a home-alone process. The first draft of anything is about getting the words on the page, then the fun begins: shaping, deepening, and layering through drafting and redrafting.

Why is your collection called Paisley Shirt?

The title comes for the opening story in the collection. It’s about Piotr who returns to the neighbourhood of his childhood to visit the woman who used to look after him. For the woman, this prompts unravelling memories about a love affair with his father.

What plans do you have for future writing?

This Much I Know is my current WIP. It’s a novel with a six-year-old narrator that gives a child’s view of the interaction between adults in a suburban community where a paedophile is housed. The trick in writing from a child’s perspective is to exploit the gap in understanding between the child and the actions of adults around them. I’m having a lot of fun playing around with strategies and techniques to capture the voice of a young child.

Thank you for inviting me onto your blog, Patsy. I hope we’ve been able to uncover a thing or two that gives encouragement to writers who follow your blog. 

I hope so too, Gail!

Gail is the chair of the Dorset Writers Network. You can find her on Twitter as @GailAldwin and on Facebook and via her blog.