Wednesday, 29 January 2014


Prompt means to act with speed, at once or in a timely fashion. Promptly is how I like editors to accept my submissions, or slowly really - just as long as they say yes.

Wine vanishes with remarkable promptness when it gets near me.

To prompt can also be to incite, inspire or urge into action. I'd like to prompt you to download my free ebook or even buy this one ...

A prompter assists a speaker by providing a missing word. A prompt can also be an aid to memory or encouragement to action. Maybe my blog posts prompt you to enter writing competitions?

This site provides weekly writing prompts as well as competitions with cash prizes.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Shhhh writer(s) at work.

For this competition you're asked to write a poem about silence, stillness, meditation or solitude. There's a $175 prize which you don't need to share with anyone.

If going it alone isn't you thing, here's a poetry competion for work written by two or more people. Presumably if you can write together, you'll find a way to share the $150 should you win it.

Have you ever tried writing with someone else? How did it go?

This competition seems confusing. Is it just me?

Friday, 24 January 2014

Sound Good?

Now, take note and stay sharp. To score in this short story competition, you'll need to be in tune with the judges. Win the £100 prize and you'll be singing for joy.

Helen Yendall is offering a great prize for someone 'relatively new to this writing lark'. Entry is easy, so do have a go if you feel you qualify.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014


Porosity is my current favourite word. I'm using it here because, unless you're a geologist or garden writer, it's not easy to work in anywhere.

It means the state or property of being porous, or refers to the ratio of pores or voids to the total volume of something. For example, clay pots are better than plastic for growing many plants because of their porosity.

Porous means letting through water, air etc. It can also refer to breaches of security or leaking of information.

Pour us a drink and poring over manuscripts are entirely different, even if the latter does reveal plot holes.

Thanks to Julia Hones for finding this free poetry competition with a $250 prize. Watch out for the dragons. Dragon skin has a low level of porosity. (That link leaks like a sieve and is therefore highly porous.)

Sunday, 19 January 2014

It's a dog's life

Being a writer is a lot like being a dog. We sniff around looking for ideas and checking up on what everyone else is doing (even if we do usually call it research and reading.) We're grateful whenever anyone throws us a bone and if you've ever seen a dog dreaming, you know how we feel when we get a plot idea just when it's most awkward to write it down.

Just as a dog is always a dog (even when he's also being a four legged dustbin, slobber generator or physical trainer) a writer is always a writer. I'm assuming I'm not the only one who, whilst commiserating over a family member's embarrassing incident, is thinking 'oooh, I can use that'.

When we get a reject, it's like we've been left in the kennels. An acceptance is the best walk ever.

My own dog is imaginary, so I can't show you a photo. Instead here's my cat (he's ficticious but photographable) and other people's dogs.

And here's a competition for a story featuring a dog. The top prize is $500. That'd buy a lot of chews.

Can you think of other ways writers are like dogs?

Friday, 17 January 2014

By the Seaside

Thanks to Suzy for telling me about this competition and reminding me about this one. I'm having a go at both of them.

The first is quite unusual as you're only required to write a section of the story at each stage, then for the next you'll continue with whatever was written by the previous winner. It'll be interesting to see how it turns out. There's a £25 Amazon voucher on offer for each stage and four chances to win.

The second competition is for a romantic story set by the seaside. As the view from my mobile office is often of the sea, and I'm still a newlywed* I shouldn't have any trouble coming up with an entry. The prize is a weekend break with £50 spending money.

*My theory is you're a newlywed for the length of time you were together before getting married. That gives us more than ten years still to go.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Allude and Elude

To allude is to mention in a casual way or hint at. To elude is to escape from or avoid, or to fail be understood or achieved by. My writing friends have occasionally alluded to the times the correct word has eluded me.

I'm alluding to this opportunity to have your work performed on BBC radio, and this one to earn $50 in the hope the chances won't elude you.

Allusions and elusions are tricky to photograph, so here's something to give the illusion of spring.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Location, location, location

When reading or writing, is the story setting important to you? Personally, although I don't need the grid reference for every move a character takes, I do like to feel that they're somewhere, even if all I have to go on is a single reference to the kitchen window.

This bus stop is a location I've used a lot. It's the one where Mavis from Paint Me A Picture sees the children she thinks of as a flock of starlings, where the pale girl snubs her and where she first meets Bert and his wife.

It's also the setting for a few short stories, including this one and is where this one starts.

Bus stops, airports and train stations make good locations, I think. For one thing, you don't need to describe them for readers to form a picture of the scene. Characters can be alone with time to think, or can meet other people. They might be going somewhere exciting, or boring. Could be dreading the day ahead, or eager to get going. Or perhaps they're waiting for someone to arrive?

Tenous link coming up ... Teenagers are often regular bus users... One Teen Story are currently open for submission.

Enter this draw, to win a hotel stay. As you'll see it's book related and I'm sure they have buses in Manchester.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Exclusion Zones?

I've seen quite a few writing competitions recently that are only open to people of one sex, a particular ethnic group, or residents of a certain area. Why? Surely things such as gender, skin colour and nationality are unimportant to readers of the story or poem?

Perhaps I'm wrong and some groups aren't getting a fair deal and therefore deserve extra help. I can only go by my own experience, which is that although I have sometimes been asked for a photo (for publicity purposes) this has only happened AFTER my work was judged.

Some restrictions I can understand. Competitions just for children for instance, or new writers, as it wouldn't be fair to judge their entries against those of more experienced writers.

Esecially frustrating is when such requirements aren't at all obvious and you have to send off for further details, or miss them until double checking the small print just before sending off your highly polished piece of work. Grrr. Still, it's always our responsibilty to check all the rules to make sure we are eligible and happy to accept any conditions imposed.

What entry requirements would you like to see in a competition? One only for redheads who got married in purple would be good I think.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Insecurities? I'm not ready ...

It's time for another Insecure Writer's Support Group post. Despite these being a week later this month, on account of the New Year, I think it's still a bit early to be feeling insecure about 2014. Even if the year hasn't started well for some, there's still plenty of time for good things to happen - and time to put in the effort so they do.

I'm looking forward to writing more (a lot more) submitting to magazines and entering competitions. More travel is also the plan this year. Hopefully that will include meeting up with some of my writing and blog friends.

This morning I was on the radio, chatting about my plans. You can listen here. My bit starts almost 12 minutes in.

Rather do your own writing than hear about mine? In that case you might like a chance to win £100 for 100 words. Those numbers not big enough? Then how about this one where you have up to 8,000 words to play with and could win £15,000?

Monday, 6 January 2014

Doom and gloom

Apparently today is the most depressing day of the year. That's excellent as tomorrow is going to be even better. Until then, distract yourself with all the competitions Gayle has found.

In case it's not on her list (there are so many I've not got through them all yet) here's a poetry contest with a £25 prize.

Did all those opportunites cheer you up? I hope so, but even if they didn't get some entries in. A call or email saying 'congratulations you've won, your prize is on the way' will surely do the trick.

If all not, I shall be forced to send in The Sphere!

You can try guessing what the uniform represents, unless you used to work with me. (In that case you can just laugh at the fact The Spere's shoulders slope so much I needed tape to keep the epaulettes on)

Thursday, 2 January 2014

It's that time of year again

Yes, it's the brief period between Christmas and Valentine's Day when we're supposed to start booking our holidays. If we don't, whole weeks could go buy without us spending huge sums and then where would we all be?

To keep in line with the world according to the advertising agencies, here's a travel writing competition and here's another one.

That gives me an excuse to post another of my holiday snaps, so it's not all bad. (In the unlikely even you've not guessed where we went, here's another clue)