Thursday, 21 August 2014

The power of three

A few days ago, at an undisclosed location in the south of France, I met up with my writing friends Hilary Mantelpiece and KJ Rolling Pin. The photographer made reference to the opening scenes of Macbeth so we sent him to Coventry ... where his remains have been formed into a new gargoyle.

Our weekend retreat was funded by the two Arthurs (Mr Cone and Mr Doyle to you). They're huge fans of our work. Well, who isn't?

We dined exclusively on ice cream served in cornets formed round the horns of unicorns and drank nothing but the finest vintage peppermint tea.

Naturally our conversation was of literary matters, well worn themes and the loveliness of DC Thomson editors. Do read my friends' accounts here and here for the whole story. Some parts are even true!

No famous authors were harmed in the making of these blog posts. The same cannot be said of cakes and scones.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014


Hands up who thought I'd put an extra f in the title? Anyone? No? Oh, I was sure I'd catch someone out. Riffling, as you know, means to turn pages in quick succession (my book Paint Me a Picture is such a page turner you're sure to riffle through it) to shuffle cards or something to do with gold washing. A riffle can also be a patch of waves or ripples (I particularly like that one)

Rifling on the other hand is putting spiral grooves in a gun barrel to make it more accurate (the gun in question could be a rifle, but they do it with other kinds too). Rifle can also mean to search and rob or carry off as booty. So someone might riffle through a gun inventory deciding which rifled rifle to rifle.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Need some help?

I like writing (you probably guessed). As a hobby or even way to make a living it has many advantages. But if something goes wrong we are rather on our own compared with those who are members of clubs or work for big companies. (Imagine some stuff about being all at sea, out of our depth, floundering etc and the picture will make sense)

For UK writers help, particularly with contracts, is provided by the Society of Authors. (If you're in need of financial support for your work in progress, you might find this helpful. )

Which aspects of writing, or being a writer would you most like help with? (I can't guarantee I'll be able to provide that help, but maybe between us we can point some people in the right direction)

Friday, 15 August 2014


I was asked by User design if I'd like a copy of this book so that I could review or feature it.

As you've probably guessed, it's about punctuation. The use of each punctuation mark is clearly and simply explained, there are examples of its use and, where helpful, suggestions to avoid misusing them. It seems to me to be comprehensive and accurate. Typographical marks, rather than punctuation marks, are not included.

It's cute; maybe better described as a booklet than a book. The cover has that strokeable finish you sometimes find on nice notebooks.

The book is very short. There are just 36 pages and funny little sketches (illustrating the examples) take up half of each. Those shown are the first and last pages, reproduced with the publisher's permission.

That does make the £10 price tag seem a bit steep, but has the advantage of making it very quick to find the information you want. I have other books which provide the same information, and much more, but they don't make it easy to check if you suddenly have a doubt over whether to write women's or womens'.

The website states the book is for all ages, but especially designed for teenagers and those who feel reading a book is boring. I think it would also be good for those writers who don't want to be told how to write, and/or don't want to get sidetracked whilst in the middle of something. It would be a nice small prize for competitions or other writers's group activities. It's not so good for procrastination though!

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Ooops - and huzzah!

I forgot to do a Wednesday word of the week post, which is the oops.  The huzzah is because I've sold another story to My Weekly and I'll be meeting up with writing buddies later this week.  I need to work on my cake eating skills!

Anyone want to share an embarrassing oversight or, better yet, a piece of good news? (It doesn't have to be writing related) I'd like something fun to read whilst I chomp.

I do have a competition link too, but I'm not sure how to make it relevant to the rest of the post ... um, the cake has a middle in it and I have a writing friend in the Midlands and another friend is a wonderful poet and winning might make you go 'Huzzah!' Yes, that should do it. Here's a competition for poets who live or work in the Midlands.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

You Write On

Apparently uploading your short story or the opening of your novel to this site gives you the chance of feedback from top publishers.

Anyone tried them?

Monday, 11 August 2014

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Canterbury Tales and Poems

Thanks to Beth Cuenco for the following -
The Wise Words Festival (, in partnership with The Canterbury Times, is launching two competitions, one for those who like to write prose and the other for those who like to write poetry.
Both competitions invite entries inspired by the theme ‘The Great Unknown.’
  • Poets are invited to submit a poem of up to 20 lines (no poem is too short)
  • Writers are invited to submit a short story (Flash Fiction) that contains no more than 500 words (again there is no minimum limit)
There are three age categories, 7-10 years, 11-15 years and adults (16+)
The competition will be judged by our Festival Patron and award-winning author Jane Gardam OBE. Winning entries will appear in the Canterbury Times and in the next edition of our very own paper ‘Wise Words’ that will appear coffee shops across Canterbury.
Competition Rules:
  • All work must be in English and not previously published in any form.
  • Entries must be original; entirely the entrant’s own work and must not infringe the copyright or any other rights of any third party.
  • Only one entry per person is allowed.
  • There is no charge for submissions.
  • The deadline for entries is midday 11th August.  Entries must be submitted to . Please put the age bracket within which you fall and include POETRY or FLASH FICTION COMPETITION in the email subject. 

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Getting Graphic

If you're a graphic novelist or storyteller then this competition might appeal. The prize is £1,000 plus publication of your story in The Observer.

Reckon they mean graphic as in 'with pictures' rather than 'with explicit detail' but I've been wrong before. Anyway, I'll play it safe with the illustration.