Friday, 14 December 2018

Not the solution

Thanks to Alyson Hilbourne (who previously came second in one of their competitions) for telling me that Solutions Loans are running another free to enter short story contest. First prize is £200.

As you may have guessed, I'm a big fan of free to enter writing competitions. The same cannot be said of loan companies. If you find yourself in financial difficulties there are better (in my opinion) ways of dealing with the problem than accruing more debt at incredibly high interest rates. Please talk to your bank, if appropriate contact a charity or support organisation connected with your personal circumstances, or seek advice from somewhere such as Citizen's Advice.

Wednesday, 12 December 2018


A cento is a composition made from the quotations of other authors. I can imagine it might be quite fun to create, but that it would be rather disjointed to read – and quite possibly in breach of copyright.

Just in case you fancy a go, here's a quote from my book Leave Nothing But Footprints that I'm giving you permission to include in any cento you may decide to create.

"The action was frozen a split second before the water found its target."

I picked that because I think it could be used in various ways. That's not the case with the paragraph I got just from opening the book at random.

"As Jess made a pot of tea, Eliot said, "I'm going to impress you even more now by showing you the advantages of HDR." As he brought up five images taken inside a church they'd photographed earlier in the week, he explained that by combining over and under exposed images he could capture all the details in the shadows without burning out highlights in the better lit areas."

It's hard to see how you could use that in anything other than a work involving photography. You'd probably be able to leave out the campervan though.

Did you know a cento was a thing? Would you like to read or create one?

Friday, 7 December 2018

All to play for

Here's an interesting sounding competition for script writers. It's run by the Drip Action Theatre Company.

Plays of 30 to 40 minutes are invited. Eight of these will be performed as part of the Arundel Theatre Trail, earning the creator a £150 writer's fee. The very best one will also get a £250 award.

Do you enter any of the free competitions I blog about? I sometimes do – and I came joint third in the adult poetry category of this one, which I mentioned back in October. I'd forgotten about it until my certificate and book voucher arrived in the post yesterday.

Wednesday, 5 December 2018


Historically a host is a large number of people, or an army. In Christian religion it may be the consecrated bread used to represent the body of Jesus, or the heavenly host may refer to angels or perhaps other bible figures – although the heavenly host can also be used to mean the sun, moon and stars.

A host might be a person who has recieved a donated organ, or any living organism which carries a parasite or disease. The landord of a pub, compere of an event, or person who invites others into their home could all be described as hosts.

This week I'm co-hosting the Insecure Writer's Support Group along with J.H.Moncrief, Tonja Drecker, Chrys Fey and of course our Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh. This organisation exists to support insecure writers (as you may have guessed!). This is done through blog posts on the first Wednesday of each month, where members share their anxieties, offer tips only avoiding such concerns and offer encouragement to those who are feeling insecure.

There's also a Facebook group, website and twitter account, so there's always someone available should you wish to ask a question, or recieve (or offer of course!) a word of reassurance.

To join, just click here and add yourself. It's free and all you're committed to is a posting once a month (you can drop out temporarily or leave completely any time.) There's an optional suggested question each time, so no need to worry about being stuck for a topic.

Have you hosted anything? Are you an insecure writer? Are you a member of, or considering joining the IWSG?

Oh, by the way (she drops casually into the conversation) would you like to download this short ebook myself and three friends have created? It's free!

Monday, 3 December 2018

Tiny books

Third Word Press have an ongoing, free to enter, writing competition. Each fortnight there's a chance to win £20 for an 80 word piece of writing. It may be a complete story or extract from a longer work.

The best pieces will be made into a tiny book, which will be sold to raise money for the homeless (a little like the Big Issue, but these are teeny). I have a piece in their last book, and hope to get into the next.

I found this stone, partly hidden under some heather, when we climbed up the hill in Ullapool.

Isn't the painting of the tiny book lovely? I was seriously tempted to keep it, but eventually hid it again for someone else to discover. I hope they enjoy the surprise as much as I did.

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Facebook Live – and other book promotion stuff

You probably know that I've written some books. That's the easy bit –  selling them is an entirely different matter. In the past I've tried promoting them through radio interviews, talks to writing groups, book signings, a public reading...

What with travelling so much, and other not very good excuses, I'd pretty much stopped all marketing activity. Unsurprisingly that didn't help book sales, so I'm now putting in a bit more effort.

Yesterday I did a Facebook Live post for a Facebook book group. That was a first for me. It's rather weird talking to people who, although you know are there as they can 'like', leave comments and questions, you can't see or hear. Other than that, and the initial fear that I'd mess up the technology and be talking to myself, I quite enjoyed it.

If you try this yourself, I now have a few tips –

1. Don't panic if you don't get comments etc straight away. These take a while to filter through.

2. Because of that, be ready with something to say, rather than just sitting and waiting for questions (I did, but not enough and had to talk at random for a while.)

3. Have something ready to read in case you're asked to do that, or have time to fill. I was asked and didn't know what to pick, so faffed about a bit until a kind listener requested something specific.

4. Make a note of anything you especially want to say. (I totally forgot to mention this free ebook and it would have been the ideal place to do so.)

In a couple of weeks I'll be chatting at my local library and in March I'm a panelist as part of Portsmouth BookFest. Both of these will be new experiences, but I have spoken to groups before, so I'm not too nervous about those. Any tips will be very welcome though!

Have you attended/watched/listened to any book promotion events?

What book promotion stuff have you tried and how did it go?

Wednesday, 28 November 2018


A bluebell is a flower with a blue (except when it's white or pink, obviously) bell shaped flower. Which particular flower depends on where in the world you live. 

 These are English bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) – which I photographed in Wales.

These are Scottish bluebells (Campanula rotundifolia) known as harebells in England.

These are Spanish bluebells (Hyacinthoides hispanica).

Which flowers do you think of as bluebells

Monday, 26 November 2018

Are We Nearly Famous?

I reckon I must be almost famous – I surveyed some of my friends and family and every single one of them had heard of me! (Oddly not many of them wanted to listen to my jokes.)

Actually I don't really want to be famous. Not in a 'daren't go out in public for fear of screaming fans, and paparazzi trying to catch you doing something mildly embarressing' way. I'd quite like more people to know about my books, and ideally buy one or two, though. Three of my writing friends, Sheila Crosby, Rosemary Kind and Lynne Pardoe felt the same way, so we decided to create this free ebook, to share stories, reveal a litlle about why we write, and promote our work.

You can download Are We Nearly Famous? for free here.

My story, The Mysterious Stone Of Ogham, is set at Gigha in the inner Hebrides. Of course I've visited and photographed (and swum in a little lagoon at the edege of) this beautiful Scottish island.

Friday, 23 November 2018

Very cool

Thanks again to Alyson Hilbourne for notifying me of another free to enter competition.

They're looking for short stories, poems or essays on the theme of equality and offering a free place on a writing retreat in Iceland to the winner. Do read all the details to ensure you want the prize and will be able to accept it.