Wednesday, 31 December 2014


Subliminal actually means something usually below the level of known sensation or consciousness. It can be useful when advertising.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, 28 December 2014

2014 - 2015

This is the tradtional time for looking back over the previous year and looking forward to the next. I like a bit of tradition.

In 2013's end of year post I said I'd done fairly well, but could do better. The same thing is true this year.  2014 was my best writing year so far in terms of short stories written and sold. That's good, I'm pleased, but I could have worked harder and would probably have then seen even better results.

So, do I carry on as I have been and try to put in more effort - or is it time for a completely new strategy and approach? I have a few days to work that out. One thing's for sure, I'll be making good use of the mobile writing retreat.

How was your year - and what are your plans for 2015?

If you fancy a real challenge, how about writing something positive about the banking industry? If you can manage it, you might win £200 in this free competition.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

What does it represent?

I've seen loads of competitions offering agent representation for novel writers over the last few weeks. Here's another one (you have to register with the site to get the details, but it's free to do that).

I was under the impression that agents had so many prospective clients they could only skim through a fraction of the manuscripts submitted to them. Now it seems many are actively seeking more novels to read. Any idea what, if anything, has changed?

I don't think these figures are supposed to represent agents or authors, but for all I know they might. Anyone got a clue?

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Happy Christmas

Wishing you all a merry Christmas, season's greetings, happy birthday as appropriate - even if you're not celebrating anything, I hope you have a nice day.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014


A tiro (which can also be written as tyro) is a beginner or novice. Two or more are known as tiros.

I'm a tiro when it comes to wildlife photography, but fortunately this little bird hopped off instead of flying away, so I got some of it in focus. Anyone know what it is?

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Friday, 19 December 2014

Did you miss me?

Thanks to me being super organised and scheduling a few posts, you might not even have realised I've been a way, but I have. We've travelled to and around the Canary islands, then came back through a force ten! It was twelve days of eating, drinking and having a thoroughly good time researching story ideas. It's a tough life being a travelling writer. The highlight was a personal tour of La Palma by my friend Sheila which involved telescopes, tame ravens and volcanoes. There are pictures ...

My stories seem to like getting about a bit too, whilst I was away I had one accepted by a Swedish magazine (Don't be too impressed - I wrote it in English)

Wednesday, 17 December 2014


Libration is the apparent oscillation of a heavenly body (usually the moon) because the edges are coming in and out of view. I imagine it occurs more frequently after the viewer has taken a libation.

Hands up those who thought it involved drinking at the library. Oddly I didn't have a picture of me doing that, so here's one of me with The Sphere. Apparently he oscillates on windy days.

updated 18/12 - we're just back from a cruise. The ship very conveniently had a cocktail bar close to the library. I *may* have indulged ... It was for research though, obviously. Any minute I might need to describe the exacy taste of a White Lady, a Singapore Sling or a Brandy Alexander.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Smoothly does it

Flatiron are looking for sort story submissions, of 600 words for humour or 1,500 - 3,000 for anything else sci-fi, speculative or fantasy. They pay 3c per word  U.S.

We have an iron but I flatly refuse to use it. I can't do irony either, so here's some flat calm water instead.

update - is it irony that I scheduled this post before we went away and we spent yesterday sailing through a force ten?

Friday, 12 December 2014

Skimming stones

A place on a writing workshop at the Listovel festival is part of the prize in this short story competition. I'm not sure I'd be able to get to Ireland at the appropriate time if I won, but I like the prompt so much I think I'll enter anyway.

Here's where I'm setting my entry.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014


Nyctitropic is the movement, of plants, at night. Yep, daisies and cabbages are going to crawl out their beds and murder you in yours!

Nah, not really. This phenomenon is caused by changes in light or temperature. Usually it's no more alarming than leaves drooping or flowers opening at different times. For example mirabilis jalapa and nicotiana sylvestris flowers tend to be droopy in the daytime, but perk up in the evening and overnight. That's handy if you're pollinated by moths.

I admit it's not an easy word to drop into a story or casual conversation, but I'm sure you'll find a way.

Sorry ...

Sorry if you're seeing that annoying word verification thing. I have it switched off but it's still coming up, even for me at times. We're currently away (yes again!) so I probably won't be able to sort it out for a while.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Benefits of travel

Thanks to Alyson for telling me about this travel writing competition. There's £100 on offer for 600 words (fact or fiction) which would encourage people to visit a particular location.

If I were to cut and paste from recent blog posts I'm sure I could get together 600 words on the theme of 'visit Scotland, there are castles there'.

Talking of visiting Scotland, she says as if she'd actually stopped going on about it, I thought you might be interested in the stats from our trip*

Castles visied - 22
Islands visited - 3
Cathedrals and Abbeys - 4
Gardens - 5
Ferries photographed - 29
Lighthouses - 5
Others (stone circles, monuments, follies etc) -28
Bottles of wine drunk - all of them
Stories inspired by trip - 9 (so far I expect they'll be more)

* includes journey up and back

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

I'm not getting insecure about my insecurities ...

This month I'm a co host for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. My fellow co hosts supporting Ninja Captain Alex are E Solar, Heather and Tonja.  Do visit their blogs and if you're an insecure writer or someone who'd like to offer words of support, or both, then join us.

I wasn't feeling insecure until I started thinking about what to write in this post. As co host I felt it should be something really good. But then I saw how silly it was to feel insecure about it - that''s the complete opposite of the whole point of IWSG.

So, I'm going to give you links to free to enter writing competitions instead. I know how to do that as I do it all the time. You might find them useful. You might even win one of them and I bet that'd squish flat any insecurities you might have. Please let me know if you have success in any of the competitions I post about as I'd love to share your good news and prove people really do win.

Here's one to win coaching from a literary agent, the author of the winning short story in this short story competition will get a holiday, this novel one offers £1000 and agent representationt, and this one for a first crime novel offers and advance of $10,000.

 This is more of a publishing opportunity than a competition but there's cash on offer for flash fiction or poetry, if flash is your thing then you might also like this one (thanks to Sheila for telling me about it) for stories of 20 - 40 words, or this one with a book as the prize, or this one which offers 25 books.  This one's for longer short stories and offers workshops amongst the prizes. Another short story competition has a £50 prize, yet another offers $50 Amazon voucher each month.

I hope there's something to tempt you amongst that lot, but if not maybe there will be in my next post, or the one after ...

Oh and if you haven't already downloaded my short story collection, you might like to know it's free again. US link UK Link

Tuesday, 2 December 2014


Yes, I know it's November, but May is the theme of this short story competition that you may wish to enter (see what I did there?) You may not want to bother reading all the t&cs but I think you should. There's a bit about copyright that I think might just refer to the winner. I'm trying to find out.

The prize is a week's holiday in a Duchy of Cornwall manor house which sleeps up to eight. Make a good writing retreat, wouldn't it?

Here's a picture taken in my garden this May. It may, or may not, inspire you.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Short list

The winner of this novel writing competition will win agent representation and coaching for a year.

It took me ten years to write this novel, but as they only want 500 - 1000 words for the competition I might manage something by the deadline.

If you'd rather read books than write them, you might like to try winning yourself a year's supply.

Friday, 28 November 2014

World domination

I thought it was time to update you on the progress of my world domination bid. Actually it's going rather well. You can read an extract of my story in Canadian magazine Ficta Fabula here. Two of my stories have recently appeared in Indian magazine Woman's Era and there should be one soon in Australian magazine That's Life Fast Fiction.

It's making me feel as though I should be laughing manically *mwa ha ha ha* and stroking a cat. Luckily there's one of them in my latest Ireland's Own story. Further updates (should there be any) will appear on my short stories page.

Where next? The world of poetry? Hmmm, perhaps not for me, but if poems are your thing, you might be interested in this competition.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014


This post was inspired by my friend Richard Peej's Facebook post. He put up a picture of a carpentry joint (I don't know why, but who am I to judge people's odd hobbies?) Soon others added images of a marijuana joint, Sunday joint and an elbow joint being put to good use (er, yes that last one was me)

Other uses for the word include a place to meet someone for a drink, something done in partnership (eg jointly writing a book) part of a book cover, cutting up a carcass for food, held or belonging to more than one person (joint account) the contrivance by which two artificial things are joined together (that's something to do with plumbing, I think) the part of a stem from which a leaf grows, the cement bit between bricks and to prepare something ready to be joined to something else.

If I've missed any, please let me know - that way this post will be a joint effort.

Talking of which, thanks to Julia Hones for telling me about this competition. There's a £200 prize and it's open to all.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014


You don't have long to get an entry in for this competition, but how long do you need to write 20-40 words? One of those must be refrigerator.

There are cash prizes.

I was going to illustrate this post with a picture of our fridge, but it's full of beer and wine and I didn't want to give you the wrong idea. So here's something else cold instead.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Travelling writer

If you're a travelling writer, (which I am aren't I, Suzy?) this competition is perfect. They want 500 words on how you got into motorhomes. If you had some vague idea people generally got into camper vans through a door of some kind, you'd probably best sit this one out.

Do you have a motorhome or van? (if so, you might like the blog Gary and I are setting up) Or some other interest you'd like me to try and find a competition about? Or do you know of a free to enter competition with an unusual or speciality theme?

Friday, 21 November 2014

Are you a techie type?

This competition might appeal to those less technologically challenged than me, as they want stories, poems, documentaries etc which can be interacted with on computers and devices. I expect the £1000 prize will appeal to everyone.

For those who are as technologically challenged as I am, here's a pretty picture.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014


A mull is a promontory. Mull can also mean to ponder or consider. Mulling wine, beer or cider is heating it with sugar and spices. Eg I went to the Mull of Kintyre and mulled over whether or not to have a glass of mulled wine.

Mull apparently can also be a form of non acidic compost or a particular type of muslim, so I suppose I could have sat on a pile of mull at a mull* in the company of a mull. We may have mulled things over together, but we'd not have drunk any mulled wine.

*Not Kintyre though as the soils is acidic there.

Now I could have mulled some wine and photographed that as I do like the stuff, but then I remembered how much you like my pictures of Scotland (or at least are too polite to beg me to stop, which is just as good) so here's one of the foghorn at the Mull of Galloway. (I don't actually know the  man in the picture, but he stayed there so long I took the shot anyway, then walked down to see what he was looking at. It was a HUGE seal. He (the man, not the seal) then pointed out various different birds and explained about the tides and other interesting stuff.)

Tuesday, 18 November 2014


Winning this novel writing competition will get you a publishing contract and a place on a writing retreat. It's for unpublished writers only.

I couldn't think of a suitable picture to illustrate this, which was a bit of an emergency, so I called in the police. One of the policemen had an accent, so it all worked out in the end.

Perhaps I need to go on some kind of retreat?

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Swanning about

Paper Swans are looking for submissions of poetry. The only payment is two complimentary copies of their anthology, which is actually better than is offered by many publishers of poetry.

Friday, 14 November 2014

What makes you happy?

The theme of this competition is joy. The prize is £500 plus a residential course at one of Arvon's historic houses.

Visiting historic houses is one of the things which make me happy.  The (quite long) list also includes writing, winning things and getting cash, so I'd be very joyful to win.

What does, or would, make you happy?

Wednesday, 12 November 2014


Uxorial means of, or relating to, a wife. I'm not sure how useful the word is in everyday conversation, but it must be more useful than uxorious which means to be excessively fond of one's wife. Speaking as a married woman I can't see how such fondness could possibly be excessive.

btw, I've just become aware some people's comments had just vanished. If that happened to you I'm sorry - they never reaced me so I didn't know you'd tried.

I've now made a setup change which I believe has solved the problem.

Monday, 10 November 2014

True Travel Tales

Here's a non-fiction travel writing competition. There's a £200 prize on offer - every week! I'm good at the travel part and here's a picture to prove* it. I'm less good at the non-fiction part. A lot less good.

*It was taken about 6 miles from my home so proves nothing, except my point about non-fiction.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

This Morning!

Here's a novel writing competition. The winner will get a free place on a Curtis Brown novel writing course and representation by Curtis Brown. Naturally, as I'm mentioning it, it's free. You only have a short time to get an entry in though, so you'd better start soon. This morning would be a good time.

OK, so this wasn't the view from my window this morning, but this is a fiction competition.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Feeding frenzy

For this competition you need to write a story (true or otherwise) involving food or drink. The prize is £7,500. Even if you go for the really good stuff, that would buy you a lot of healthy vegetables.

Obviously I wouldn't spend it on healthy vegetables but you might be more sensible than me.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Less interesting than grass

This is an Insecure Writer's Support Group post. If you're a writer and ever suffer from insecurity, do join us.

I went to Scotland recently. If that's news to you then hello and welcome to the blog, you must be new! Anyway, I wanted to photograph a Highland cow while in the highlands (I'm a farmer's daughter) We saw some. We stopped. We photographed, but even when I got really, really close they took absolutely no notice and just carried on chomping away.

Now cows can't read. Maybe if they could they'd have been thrilled to see me? No of course they wouldn't. To a cow, grass is far more interesting than anything I might write.

When our writing gets little reaction that can make us feel insecure. Perhaps it shouldn't. If we're showing it to family who don't write themselves, or friends who aren't fans of our genre, can we really expect anything more than an unconvincing 'how interesting'?

Try not to let that put you off. Write what you want to write and only concern yourself with the reactions of those who share your passion - your writing group and/or buddies, readers, publishers and editors of your genre.

Oh and when your non writing friends and family share their golf handicap, baby photos or plans to repaint the bathroom, smile as brightly as you can and say 'how interesting'.

Monday, 3 November 2014

500 panthers courageously stampeded through the woods

Helen Yendell has a flash fiction competition up on her blog. There's a £25 voucher on offer for the winner.

You're required to include the words she's listed. One of these is 'wood' but as she advises you not to use them in an obvious way, the picture might not be much help.

Do you think she'll like the minimalist nature of my effort (shown in the title)?

Friday, 31 October 2014

Brace! Brace! Brace!

You can have up to three goes at this flash fiction competition with a $50 prize. Each should be between 50 and 750 words.

Friday Freebie - You can find free downloads here. Appropriately for today there's a ghost story.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014


A crag is a steep or rugged rock. Craggy can refer to a human face or the landscape and means rugged or rough textured. There are other versions of the word, for example in Scotland* the scenery got craggier as we approched the highlands, it was craggiest on Skye where the landscape is craggily magnificent.

Btw the pictures are all to illustrate craggy landscapes. It's purely coincidental that the same photographer just happens to be in all of them not long after remarking on the size of my bum.

*yes I have been to Scotland. I have some pictures if you'd like to see them ...

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Mystery solved?

For those of you wondering what this was, you can get a much better view of it here. Even closer up and not covered by the sea it's still difficult to identify, but luckily there's a written description.

Pictures may paint a thousand words, but sometimes they're not the right words.

Monday, 27 October 2014

What happens next?

This unusual competition is perfect for those whose mind goes blank when told they can write about anything. The character and beginning of the plot are provided.

Entrants do have to agree to their story (or stories as you can send three) being used in an anthology, but you couldn't sub a story that's only partly yours eleswhere anyway. As far as I can make out publication and publicity are the only prize.

As a break from my photos of Scotland here's one I took in Dorest (which is where you send your entries so it's kind of relevant)

Saturday, 25 October 2014


Fancy having a go at Sci-fi? There's £200 on offer for the winner of this competition. The competition is intended to highlight new, unprofessional writers (check the rules as it means new sci-fi writers. Sales in other areas probably won't make you ineligible)

Do you know what the photo is of? As a clue, I took it on our trip to Scotland. 103 points to anyone who gets it right.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Are you serious?

I'm not really a very serious person in general (had you noticed?) but I'm serious about my writing and do have plans and ambitions. How about you? Do you take parts of your life seriously?

Those who have serious writing ambitions and have had at least one story published can try this competition. The prize is £1,000.

Here's me with my dad's puppy Willow. She's seriously cute and hasn't she grown? The other dog is Bramble and she belongs to my step mum. Bramble isn't a pup (although she thinks she is).

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Crenellations of Tantallon

You might have known that crenellation is the uppy downy bits on battlements. You can have a point if you did. To crenallate is to provide a castle or tower with crenellation.

Did you know the uppy downy parts also have proper names? The gaps are crenels or crenelles. The bits between are merlons. Here's a sign to prove I don't just make all this stuff up.

And here's a picture of a castle, showing crenallation, which was taken on our recent trip and is obviously the entire reason for choosing today's word of a week. It's called Tantallon - isn't that a fantastic name for a castle?

We got there early and had the place to ourselves for the first half hour. I really must work it into a story.