Wednesday, 13 February 2019


I thought I knew what romance meant, so hadn't previously looked it up. According to my dictionary it's a feeling of excitement and mystery, most usually associated with love. Does that surprise you? It did me a little – not the excitement part so much as the mystery element, and it's not that these form part of the definition, but that they're all of it.

I've always thought of romance as being at least partly 'nice', pink and fluffy, sugar sweet. Maybe I've been romanticising the word? To romanticise (or romanticize) is to deal with, look at, or describe things in an idealised fashion or make them seem better or more appealing than they really are.

Romance can also mean feelings of excitement, mystery and remoteness associated with other things, such as the romance of travel, the wild or the sea.

If a person is romanced then they'll be the subject of actions intended to gain their love. If you're the one doing this then you're romancing the other party – good luck with that!

My latest collection Lots Of Love contains 25 short stories all connected in some way with love or romance.

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Help with writing non-fiction

Would you like to get personal advice from Alex Gazzola, an expert on breaking into the magazine non-fiction market, and be in with a chance to win one of his helpful books on the subject? As you're still reading I'm going to assume you do!

Taking part is simple – just put your question in a comment to this blog. Alex will be back on 1st of March with answers.

Alex is a journalist. author, editor, writing tutor, enthusiastic supporter of his writing friends and all round good egg. He runs a blog to help writers, especially new writers, of non-fiction to avoid making mistakes and improve their chances of success. He's also written two books on the subject (and lots of other interesting books). Alex knows what he's talking about – I've had more than one piece of non-fiction writing accepted for publication thanks to the help and encouragement he shares in these ways.

One of the people who've asked a question will be awarded their choice of either Alex Gazzola's book 50 Mistakes Beginner Writers Make or 50 More Mistakes Beginner Writers Make, which he'll post to them.

The rules!

1. Anyone may ask a question about breaking into non-fiction writing for magazines, by posting it as a comment to this post.

2. In order to be eligible to win the free book you must include your name with the question – don't supply your address yet.

3. The closing date for questions/entries is 19th February.

4. The answers and name of the winner will be posted on this blog on 1st March.

5. The winner of the book will be asked to supply a postal address for the book to be sent to. It will be dispatched shortly after that information is received.

Wednesday, 6 February 2019


A vote is an expression of your choice or decision, often via a ballot or show of hands. Whichever option or candidate gains the most support is said to have won the vote or to have been voted in.

On the other hand, a person or option can be voted down, or voted off, if the majority of votes show disapproval. Eg the biased judge was voted off the selection panel.

In some companies shareholders own voting stock, allowing them to vote at meetings. Voting with your feet is to express an opinion by your presence or absence.

Those who vote, or have the option to do so, are voters. Something which can be decided by a vote is votable.

It's Insecure Writer's Support Group time again. Each month writers share their insecurities and/or offer support to other writers who feel insecure. To join up, just click here and add your name.

Like most writers I sometimes feel insecure about my writing. Doubts that a story will sell, or be placed in a competition can hamper my attempts to get them written at times.

Currently I'm taking part in a writing challenge, which focusses solely on words written. It's like a less challenging version of NaNoWrMo. I'm doing it alongside editing and submitting – and finding it helpful. Even if I haven't achieved that day's target total, and despite still sometimes having doubts about the destiny of each piece of writing, entering a figure in the spreadsheet feels like progress (which it is).

What things have you tried to help you keep writing despite your insecurities – and did they work?

I'd like to give a vote of thanks to Carol Bevitt for passing on the details of this poetry competition. You'll need to be quick to enter, but it's free and you could win a £50 book token.

The winner of this drabble competition will be decided by votes and writers are encouraged to seek these via social media. That's not my favourite way to judge a competition, but as it's free to enter and there's a prize of £35 each month I decided to have a go. My entry is STORY 5. Will you vote for me so I'm not totally voteless?

Wednesday, 30 January 2019


Green is of course the colour made by combining blue and yellow pigments. A green is an area of grass, often used for sports or recreation (putting green, village green). Greens are vegetables of any colour (eat your greens if you want to stay healthy).

Green can be used negatively to mean unripe or unseasoned (green apples are sour and green wood is unsuitable for most carpentry) naive or envious.

More positively being green is to attempt to care for our environment in numerous ways including adopting sustainable practises, limiting waste, planting trees, collecting litter and avoiding plastics,.

The University of Southampton are running a variety of free to enter writing competitions with the theme of sustainable societies. They're looking for novels, film, stage and radio plays, interactive fiction and a TV series.

I'll be green with envy if you wn this playwriting competition from Papatango – the prize is £6,000! UK and Irish residents only. There's an option to get feedback on your work, which I'm sure would be very useful.

Are you green in any way?

Friday, 25 January 2019

Going away to write?

Here's a writing competition with a difference. Instead of having to write in order to enter, you get to do it as your prize – for three weeks, in September, in a castle, in France! You'll get fed and feedback, and 'experience intensive writing techniques'. It's free to enter – you just have to sign up for their newsletter and help spread the word.

I've never actually written inside a castle, but I do visit quite a few of them in the mobile writing retreat – including this one in France.

This weekend I'm going to be having an intense experience of my own, as I'm visiting Anne Rainbow to finalise arrangement's for our Writers' Workshop Weekend in Devon, in March. We ran one last year and several attendees are coming back. That's lovely – but does mean we need to prepare lots of new material. I'm looking forward to both the planning weekend and the event itself.

Wednesday, 23 January 2019


The word true has several meanings – in accordance with fact, genuine (as opposed to counterfeit), conforming to a standard, loyal, accurate, correctly balanced, honest and without variation (a true-bred Hereford cow always has a white face). It's truly a valuable word!

If you're truing something, you'll bring it into the correct form required e.g. aligning a wheel, so it runs true. One who does this trues, and afterwards they can be said to have trued. If this is done incorrectly, the result will be out of true.

Something which comes true actually happens, true ribs are attached to the breast bone (floating ribs are not) true north is determined by the earth's axis and magnetic north is somewhere else (I may travel a lot, but that hasn't improved my navigation skills! Those aren't even trueish.)

This competition from Spread the Word is for life writing – meaning it should be true. Write something full of trueness and you could win £1,500, an Arvon course and support with your writing. That's a truly great prize package!

No truth is required for this competition (except when complying with the rules). There's £1,000 on offer for writers and illustrators of children's books.

Want to read about true love? You can do that with my latest short story collection.

Friday, 18 January 2019

Worth a try?

Harpers Bazaar are running a short story competition. You have up to 2,500 words to write on the theme of 'Liberty'. As usual, for the competitions I mention on this blog, it's free to enter. The prize is publication in the magazine and a couple of nights in a very nice looking hotel in the Yorkshire Dales.

It was foggy when we drove over the Dales, so I don't have photos – but here's a castle that's in the general area.

Talking of getting stories published, one of mine will be in this Sunday's Love Sunday magazine (it comes with The Sunday People newspaper.) I'm hoping that some of those who enjoy it will be enticed to buy my books! Do you think it will work?

Wednesday, 16 January 2019


A cockatrice (or basilisk) is a mythical reptile whose breath and look can kill. It's also a fabulous heraldic animal composed of a cock with a serpent's tail.

Unfortunately, although I've photographed may heraldic creatures I'm yet to capture a cockatrice. I'll be looking out for one on this year's trips, mostly so I can inform innocent bystanders what it is, but also to take a picture.

Thanks to Bea Charles for telling me about a free competition in Prima magazine. They're looking for 800 word stories and offering a Writer's Bureau course for the winner. You have until the end of March to enter. I couldn't find details online, but you should be able to get the magazine in most UK newsagents. It's also often held in libraries.

Another free to enter competition offereing help and support to writers is this one from Spotlight Books. They're looking for fiction and poetry from authors from underepresented backgrounds (as defined on the entry form). Winning entrants will get help with editing and polishing and recieve a publishing contract.

If you can work the word cockatrice into entries for either of these I'll be very impressed.

Do you think you'll be using today's Wednesday word of the week in any way at all?

Monday, 14 January 2019

Yes! Yes! Yes!

Thanks to Bea Charles for telling me that The Lady are looking for 'love poems for married couples'. These should be emailed to by 25th of this month. The prize is publication for the winner and a copy of Love Poems for five runners-up.

I've sent in our wedding vows – although I can't remember whether or not we were technically married at the moment I read them, and I did borrow quite heavily from Pam Ayres' so they probably can't publish them anyway.