Wednesday, 31 July 2013


I expect you know what a swan is and can probably see where the term swan necked comes from. The birds' graceful progress across the water would account for the phrase swanning about too (I swan about a fair bit, though not usually in a graceful manner. That's what I was doing when I spotted this family.)

A swan song is a person's last work or act before death or retirement. I'm not sure why a large white water bird of the genus Cygnus should be associated with that, or with a form of diving, but it is. 

Did you know that swan can also refer to a poet? And can you guess who has been referred to as the swan of Avon?

If you'd like to read the first three chapters of my novel, Paint Me a Picture, you can do so here. (Er ... swans are good subjects for paintings, which is the closest I can get to making that relevant.)

Would a prize of £30,000* encourage you to swan about a bit more? If so, you might like to enter this short story competition.

*that's plenty to buy five gold rings, though perhaps insufficient to get a lord leaping with excitement ;-)

Monday, 29 July 2013

Guest post by Kamy Chetty

Kamy is joining me today to talk about her writing and of course writing contests: The good, the bad, warts and all. She's also offering a free kindle copy of Breathe Again to one of the commenters on this post.
If you’re from New Zealand you’d know we have just had the final of our first X Factor NZ. My family has followed this contest over the last 7 months and we have laughed and cried, agreed and disagreed with the judges on many occasions.
It still doesn’t answer the question. Should we or shouldn’t we? Well I am going to say this, having been on all sides of this issue personally. Yes, enter contests, but do it with a purpose and work smart. Know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. What are you hoping to achieve and where are you hoping this will get you?
The reason I am getting you to ask these questions, is because contests can be a lot of work and very expensive, leaving you doing the first three chapters and a synopsis of many stories but never finishing the book. So back to basics. What do you want?
Feedback: Contests are a great way to get feedback. Most contest managers ensure that judges give good constructive feedback but there are a few contests out there that don’t hit the spot for the newbie
Getting Noticed:  It’s an excellent way to get noticed by the right editor or agent if you choose the right contest. Again, it’s about working smart, not hard. Choose the genre and agent/editor you want to be noticed by.
Fast Track: Fast Track submission contests are excellent and Harlequin is always having them. This is a great way to get your name known. Get your name on the loops and Facebook groups
Ultimately it’s all about working smarter. Look out for the contest charts, I know Stephanie Smith has one that she keeps up to date. Choose what you want to enter and where you want to be. In my experience it has paid off to enter contests and it looks great on your writing CV but it’s hard work that makes the difference. Thanks for having me here and I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject.

There hasn’t been a time in her life that Kamy hasn’t been writing, or dreaming up some magical love story in her head. As an avid reader, it wasn’t long before she realised her talent for turning a phrase, and add to that a profession of nursing, it’s only natural that her stories have a medical theme with that happily ever after ending.
Recently she’s discovered that all those years she’s been fascinated with TV shows like CSI and Bones, has just been foreplay for her dark side and she now enjoys writing suspense with a dash of medical and a dollop of romance.
Originally from South Africa, Kamy now lives in Auckland, New Zealand with her very own hero and two children who keep her busy. She has two dogs who keep her out of trouble and shelves overflowing with books that she loves reading when she isn’t chasing deadlines.

Kamy Chetty around the web: Website Facebook Twitter Author Page

After a tour at war and countless shifts in the hospital emergency room, Nick knows that no matter how hard he tries to change things, people are the same. So when his estranged wife Skylar reveals that she stopped taking birth control and is pregnant, he shouldn’t be shocked. Betrayal burns and panic sets in as memories of his shattered home life remind him that he can’t play happy families.

Skylar knows one thing—she’s head over nurse’s shoes in love with the stubborn and unemotional Nick. She loves him enough to believe in the man he is, even though he can’t see it for himself and hides behind a mask. As he calls their child “hers” and tries to live apart from her, Skylar’s heart breaks, but she refuses to give up hope that he’ll do the right thing.

When disaster strikes, Skylar realizes Nick might never change, so she risks everything and sets him free, hoping he’ll come back, for her and their baby. Is heat, passion and a vow enough to seal this marriage and make them a family?

Reader Alert! 
Their passion and devotion will make you root for them, and their sexual tension will set you ablaze.
Read Reviews Buy Links: Red Sage Amazon Amazon UK B&N

Family Ties
A woman with no family ties of her own, desperate to fulfill her dream of having a child finds she
cannot conceive a child naturally. A man who feels guilt over his ex-wife's death, cannot find closure. Can the attraction these two people feel be enough to overcome their conflicting desires, especially when Jack finds himself the guardian of a baby he isn't sure he can be responsible for.
Read Reviews Buy Links Amazon Amazon UK

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Zombies and poetry

If you've written a zombie story (in which your zombies, who don't come from Haiti, lurch in the traditional manner rather than running about all over the shop) you might like to enter this competition. The prize is publication, vouchers and membership of AHWA membership if you're eligible.

I've entered this competition (there's still just time for you to have a go). The prize is a £25 Amazon voucher. My entry is here.

And the link between the subjects? I once wrote a zombie poem (which was published!) I decided to quit while I was ahead and haven't written about zombies since. Perhaps unwisely I'm continuing with poetry.

The other link is that I don't have a picture to illustrate either subject, which is why you've got one of a castle instead. Recognise it?

Wednesday, 24 July 2013


Frangible means brittle or liable to break. To me it sounds like one of those flaky pastry things which shatter as you bite into them, but not until after they've squidged a dollop of cream down whatever you were wearing.

It could also apply to the poor plants on my allotment as I think ours is the only town in the country not to have had rain over the last few days. 

Or even to that little burst of confidence that allows us to submit our work and which cracks at the mere thought of a 'thanks but no thanks' by return of post. Still if you want to be published you have to risk that. Talking of being published, how would you like a publishing deal, £5,000 and the support of an editor? If you would and you have at least 6,000 words of your novel written, this might interest you.

Stained glass is frangible. This example is hundreds of years old. It's lasted because it's surrounded and supported by the stone walls of Dover castle. Maybe there's a lesson there?

Monday, 22 July 2013

It's due now!

Your entry to this competition, I mean. If you've written a funny children's book then hurry and submit it as the closing date is in just a week's time.

 This one closes at the end of the month (you could win £100 for a writing tip) So does this one. (A nature poem could win you £25 Amazon voucher) You have until 2nd August for this one. The prize is a publication contract and £2,500, entries must be adult fiction and entrants must be unpublished.

Here's a picture of a lighthouse. Bet no one was expecting that!

Hilary has other news - and a picture of us on the cliffs.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013


Succulent is a brilliantly descriptive word, I think. Doesn't it sound just like biting into a ripe, juicy strawberry freshly picked and still warm from the afternoon sun? It can also refer to moisture filled plants - the ones that look like shaved cacti.

Talking of juicy, haw does £7,500 sound? That's the prize in this food writing competition. Even if you use all the words allowed it still works out as £3 for each. Pretty tasty, eh?

As you can probably tell from the photo* I'm currently out in the van and being sociable. I'm just off now to meet up with someone (who I only know through the internet) at Beachy Head. I can't see anyway that could possibly go wrong....

*There's cucumber in those drinks and that's a jolly succulent vegetable.

If you haven't had enough of me for one day you can follow me over to Della's where I'm explaining where I get my ideas from. (click on 'blog')

Friday, 12 July 2013

Came as 'me', Left As 'We'

A year ago today I arrived at the Square Tower in Portsmouth as Miss Collins and left as half of Mr and Mrs Davies. The first place Gary took me (many years ago!) was to the beach in front of the tower. That stretch of beach and the towers which guard it have been important to me ever since.

It seems appropriate then that today is the launch of Came as 'me', Left as 'we', a collection of beach reads published by Alfie Dog fiction. Naturally my story, Swept Away is set on a beach. 

There's also a collection written by some of 'Alfie's boys', This Land is My Land.

Some of the contributors to these collections have shared their feelings on love or the sea.

Rosemary J Kind (the editor) has her wedding anniversary in the same week as mine and says, "We spent the time around our first anniversary in Nice, and stood on the beach watching the most wonderful Bastille Day fireworks on a floating pontoon in the bay."

Tina Burton married in '99 at Burgh Island Hotel. "It was the most beautiful day. We went outside after the ceremony and had a panoramic view of the island with lagoon blue sea all around us. whenever I see a lovely blue sea, it reminds me of our wedding day."

Suzie Hindmarsh-Knights is an australian. I'm soooo jealous of the Christmas beach BBQs she told me about. I've long wanted to do that myself.

Susan Jane Jones's contribution is based in part on her own love story. She parted from her husband but felt they'd get back together again - and of course she was right. 

Gill McKinlay lives near Southand on Sea. Every morning, she drives to work along the seafront admiring the view and thinking how lucky she is to have such an enjoyable commute. But as a child she spent the family seaside holidays curled in the caravan with a book. Her sister once remarked she couldn't even remember her being on holiday with her!

 Alice Parrant went with her new boyfriend to Brighton in mid January. The sea wind whipped into them and the waltzer on the pier made us both ill, but they had a marvelous time. Three years later they got married, so it was the start of something very special! 

Judith Bruton is an art lover who's nostalgic for the French riviera. 

Jeff Williams Wrote Coffee With Luna and says it's a mix of current trends in social media and young love on campus----the kind of thing I witness every day as a university mathematics professor.

Gary Helm tells me he's been married for 43 Years (not words as I originally typed!) and sent me a poem to sum up his feelings on the subject which ends 'To know, of all the great luck I had in life the greatest was you.'

Are you in love, do you love the beach, or are you just all at sea? 

Wednesday, 10 July 2013


I used Grammarly to grammar check this post because they've promised me a $30 gift card for mentioning it - which makes this post a piece of paid writing! I need as many of those as I can get.
(It informed me I hadn't plaigerised this but wasn't overly keen on my punctuation! (too much of it do you think?))*

Schadenfreude is my husband's favourite word. (Does anyone else have a favourite word?) It's German really, but the English like to acquire foreign words and make them our own by pronouncing them incorrectly.

It means to take pleasure from someone else's misfortune. I don't do that (unless the person particularly deserves their horrible fate) but sometimes, even as I'm doing my best to help, I think 'that would make a good story'. (Does anyone else do that? If so, then maybe this competition will be of interest.)

* Yep that was it.** I tried adding more and got a worse score.

** It has a point!

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Out and About

My recent travels haven't been restricted to places we've visited in the van, I've been wandering around the internet too. I popped into Cafelit to tell them a story before chatting to Linda Parkinson-Hardman about my writing. After that I went over to visit Pauline Wiles.

Just to prove some work gets done on our trips here's a picture of my husband doing his thing (a photo of me at the laptop isn't nearly so dramatic!)

I've also been off in search of competitions. This monthly one is tempting as they only want 300 words and offer a $50 Amazon voucher. This one is possibly even more so as just one line is required and the prize is £100. More words are required for this one (up to 4,000) but the prize is £3,500 so it's worth making the effort.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Who stole June?

I don't think I'm the only person for whom June whizzed by. There was barely time to feel insecure and yet already it's time for another Insecure Writers Support Group post.

I am feeling insecure. Not in a lack of confidence way so much as a clinging on to a fast moving object as it hurtles through time and space kind of way. This month I have a writing competition to judge, talk to give, new book to promote*, writers' group to attend, novel to work on, competitions to enter, short stories to edit and more to write ... How am I going to get it all done?

*I've just done a radio interview. My bit starts 13 mins in. (It was a year ago I did my first ever interview and a book signing)

How about you? Are you busy or do you have spare time to fill? If it's the latter you could try this travel writing competition with a £1,000 prize, or this competition asking for reviews, tips or anything else camping related which has a $100 gift card as a prize or this one to win a full critique of your novel.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Home is where ...

At the moment home for me is where the laptop is! Due to my glamorous new job, going too see Anne Rainbow's play and visiting friends and family I spent more time in the van than at home during June. I've got some writing done, but not as much as I'd like. Must try harder!

Would you believe this was the view at my latest writing retreat? We really were there a few days ago, but writing retreat implies writing and I had the choice between working or visiting Tintagel and eating pasties and ice cream all day. The ice cream was honey and lavender ... I'll let you work out which I opted for.

Whatever home means to you, you can write about it for this competition. The prize is £50 of book tokens. Home is where the books are, perhaps?