Monday, 16 July 2018

City sights

Everything with Words are looking for "a vibrant debut novel for young adults, a book set in today’s multi-cultural Britain. Sharp dialogue, a story that’s got the feel of here and now, the street and  the city today. Atmosphere is important, both physical and psychological. It can be any city in the UK but it must be a real city."

The prize is £1,000 and publication. UK residents only. Entries close 30th November.

I've been to some UK cities – can you guess in which any of these photos were taken?

Wednesday, 11 July 2018


If the word liveable is applied to a building, area, climate etc it means that it's fit to live in. When applied to a life, it means one which is worth living and when it's a person, they're someone you can get along with.

The ease with which these things may be achieved will depend on the standards of liveability which you demand.

If you like you can also spell liveable as livable.

Gary and I happily spend months at a stretch in the van, which just goes to show how chock full of livableness we both are. Especially me ;-)

Friday, 6 July 2018

Random stuff

If you're not getting email notification when people comment on your blog, and want to, try this. (Thanks to Amanda Fleet for finding that link and passing it on.)

I've got stories in both the current issue of My Weekly magazine and Take A Break's Fiction Feast.

These photos are a few of those which I took of Mottisfont Abbey gardens (Hampshire, England). The National Trust (who own Mottisfont) will be using a selection of my pictures in their twitter feed (and maybe other social media sites) next week.

Four collections of 24 of my flower and garden related stories are now available. Over The Garden Fence includes a story set at Mottisfont.

It's so warm that if we went back to the gardens today, I'd be VERY tempted to dip my toes in that pond. Do you think anyone would mind?

Wednesday, 4 July 2018


Ultimate means last or final, maximum, best and that beyond which no other exists. It can also mean fundamental or un-analysable or a final fact or principle.

Have you ever noticed that when climbing uphill, you keep thinking the bit you're on is the ultimate peak, but you discover it's a false summit and you have to go on until ultimately you reach the ultimateness which really is the top?

If you're the ultimate winner of this free to enter short story competition, you'll win £500 (UK residents only).

See yesterday's post for the IWSG and my ultimate writing goals.

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Shifting goals – and a touch of insecurity

"What are your ultimate writing goals, and how have they changed over time (if at all)?"

They've had to change! When I started writing, 16 years ago, I didn't have any aims at all. It was just something to do. Then after a year or so I decided I wanted to get a story published in a magazine. I've achieved that (several hundred times over). Then I decided I wanted to win a competition, which I did. The next plan was to write a novel and when I'd managed that it shifted to having one published.

Escape To The Country was first published in 2012 as the result of my winning a novel writing competition. (The picture is of me doing a booksigning in Waterstones) The publishers went out of business, by which time my goals had shifted again and I self published it. Now I have five novels and twelve short story collections available (mostly self published).

My next goal was to write an article. I've done that too, actually more than one, on different subjects but mostly about writing, and co-authored From Story Idea to Reader - an accessible guide to writing fiction.

Workshops form part of my current ultimate goal. It's a long term project, but I've delivered a few already, and am booked up to do more this coming winter, such as this one in Devon.

Gosh that sounds like an awful lot of bragging! Maybe it actually is, but there's a point to it. If you set yourself goals, and you work towards them, then you stand a chance of achieving them.

If you'd like to have something published in a women's magazine, then visit the womagwriter blog. It has all the guidelines you need to submit, plus news and tips. If competitions are more your thing, keep an eye on this blog as I regularly post details of free to enter competitions, many with cash prizes.

The opening question to this post is courtesy of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Do join up if you're an insecure writer (it might not look that way, but actually we all are at least some of the time).

The first Wednesday of the month has always been IWSG day. I've been doing it for years and it's always a Wednesday. This month it's Tuesday.

What are they trying to do to me? That kind of thing could make a girl insecure! (Apparently it's because there's some sort of party going on in the USA. Makes sense as a lot of members are American. I'm British, so ummm *tactful silence*).

Do you have writing goals? Have you achieved any of them? 

Wednesday, 27 June 2018


The word gizzit isn't in my dictionary and I'll be surprised if it's in yours. Does that mean it isn't a real word? Not in my opinion. I reckon if it has meaning to the person who uses it, and at least some of the audience, then it's a real word.

A gizzit is a freebie, usually given out for promotional or marketing reasons. The word is a shortened form of 'give us it' which I suppose is the reaction those who're offering them want. Not A Drop To Drink is a freebie, and I hope people want to download a copy.

My friend Susan Jones made these key rings and fridge magnets for me, to help me promote my books (see here if you'd like her to make you some). Aren't they nice? Actually they may be a bit too nice to use as gizzits, so I'll have to think of other ways to use them. Susan suggested attaching a keyring to any bags I use, so it will always be on display. Any good suggestions for other ways to use these, and where to display the fridge magnets?

Now you know what a gizzit is (or maybe you knew already) do you agree with me that it's a real word?

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Rights grabs are not right!

Is it OK for a magazine (or anywhere else) to demand all rights for a story? I don't think it is – this post and this one, explain why. If you'd like to help women's magazine writers stand up for their rights, please leave a comment, share or tweet about this.

Monday, 25 June 2018


A couple of days ago, I got this email –

"... I’m getting in touch with you regarding our ServiceScape Short Story Award 2018. This is a free to enter writing contest.

For this writing award, any genre or theme of short story is accepted. All applicants should submit their original unpublished work of short fiction or nonfiction, up to 5,000 words, by November 30. Along with receiving an award for $1,000.00 USD, the winner will have his or her short story featured within our blog, which reaches thousands of readers per month. 

You can find more information on our short story writing contest at If you find this award resource to be of value to you and your readers, I’d appreciate it if you would add it to your site ..."

As it's free, there's a cash prize, and I was asked nicely, I decided to post it up. That's despite the fact that I couldn't think what image I could use with it. I considered using landscapes or seascapes, but that seemed a bit tenuous. My next idea was to use something to illustrate how I'd spend the money, were I to win. As that would be travelling to see interesting seascapes or landscapes, you're still stuck with some of my travel photos. Again.

Wednesday, 20 June 2018


Obviously air is the mix of gasses we breathe and which birds, planes and balloons fly in. It can also refer to our manner or behaviour e.g. at times Patsy has the air of a romantic writer (I believe it's the pink scarf and celtic clip, which do it) and we can put on airs and graces, in the hope of making an impression.

To air the laundry is to warm it (usually done inside, not out in the fresh air). We can open windows to air a room, or open our lungs (or tap away madly on social media) to air a grievance. Melodious music can also be referred to as an air.

My latest short story collection is In The Garden Air. I've dedicated it to my late grandparents, all of whom were very keen gardeners who encouraged me to develop that same passion. I'm lucky in that the three of them lived long enough to see me create gardens of my own (sadly I never knew the fourth).

My current garden contains plants raised from seeds, cuttings and divisions which were once in their gardens. Whenever I'm in the garden, it feels a little as though in some way they're still with me – my memories of them really are in the garden air.

Granny and Grandma were both great readers. They'd have been delighted to hold books I'd written, and thrilled to see my stories in the magazines they read, so I know they'd have been pleased to see their names in the front of In The Garden Air, which is the fourth of my plant and garden themed collections and contains 24 stories.