Wednesday, 30 September 2015


Rich means having lots of money, or other items of value. It can mean splendid, costly or elaborate eg richly decorated or patterned. Alternatively it's used to describe abundance. eg My mind contains a rich supply of story ideas.

Soil which is rich contains plenty of nutrients and is very fertile. Richness in our own food comes from fat or spices. Engines can have too rich a fuel and air mix.

Sounds, scents and colours are often described as rich when they're heavy, full or deep.

The phrase that's rich is sometimes used to convey the idea something is considered outrageous, ludicrous or extremely amusing.

Do you have any riches?

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Fattening up

No not me (like I'd tell you anyway) I'm referring to my article in the November issue of Writing Magazine, which will be in the shops any day now.

As well as my, not entirely serious, piece there's lots of good advice in this issue, especially for those who're considering trying NaNo.

There are loads of writing competitions listed too.

Sunday, 27 September 2015


If you're interested in learning to edit your own writing, take a look at my friend Anne Rainbow's new website.

I've been using her RedPen system for about ten years and find it very helpful.

Friday, 25 September 2015


This competition is for a first crime novel and has a $10,000 advance as the prize. It's a mystery how I've managed it, but I've given you lots of notice for this one. You have until mid December to get your story polished and submitted.

This is St Catherine's oratory in the Isle of Wight. It was built as penance for a crime.

Yep, it does seem almost criminal the way I sneak my holiday pictures into almost every post, but there's nothing you can do to stop me. Mwa ha ha ha ha!

Wednesday, 23 September 2015


An idyll is a simple, happy and peaceful situation or period of time, or picturesque scene or incident. Often they're rustic, rural or romantic (or all three). It can also mean a poem or other artwork which describes something so idyllic. Some of the places we visit with our van are idyllically suited to my becoming an idyllist.

Monday, 21 September 2015

A visit from the grammar police!

Melissa Maygrove is my guest today. She has sum excellent advise too stop us falling fowl off the grandma police - not that I need it ;-)

My mom is a retired high school English teacher. She used to snicker while grading writing assignments. Now that I freelance as an editor, I understand why. And now that I write, I worry someone will snicker at me. We want people to laugh at our stories, but only at the parts they’re supposed to. To giggle-proof your writing, be mindful of the following.

First up are usage errors. These often occur when dealing with homophones—words that sound the same, but are spelled differently and have (sometimes vastly) different meanings. And you can’t rely on your spell-checker to catch them; it’s useless.

Take peek and peak, for example. ‘Sally peeked in the closet’ sounds fine, but ‘Sally peaked in the closet,’ well... that’s a visual we can live without.

Solution? Make a list of common usage errors, especially ones you’re prone to. Search your document for these words and make any necessary corrections. 

When using a figure of speech, make sure to get it right. You’d be surprised how many times these sayings are misspoken or misunderstood (homophones, anyone?). For example, when you mean someone is very blond, it’s ‘tow-headed,’ not ‘toe-headed.’ We don’t need that visual either.

Some of the most laughable mistakes involve dangling participles. A dangling participle is a type of misplaced modifier, and it’s an easy mistake to make when you’re tightening your prose. 

A participle is an –ing or –ed verb that is acting like an adjective. A participle phrase contains one of these and often comes at the beginning of a sentence, followed by a comma. You need to make sure the first noun after the comma is the one the phrase modifies.

Sweating bullets, I hurried to finish my algebra test before the bell rang.

In this example, ‘I’ was the one sweating bullets, so it is correct.

Running to the catch the bus, Sam's wallet fell out of his pocket. 

Some people see ‘Sam’ and think that’s the noun, but it’s not. It’s possessive—Sam’s—and ‘Sam’s’ is a modifier, not a noun. The first noun after the comma is ‘wallet.’ 

Can a wallet run?
Nope. Therefore, ‘Running’ is a dangling participle.

Try another one.

Dressed in a stunning evening gown, the man couldn't take his eyes off his date. 

Was the man dressed in an evening gown?
Probably not. ‘Dressed’ is a dangling participle.

Thanks for suffering my lesson. If you haven’t fallen asleep or gone cross-eyed yet, you might enjoy the Grammar Police Files: A List of All the Posts.

Thank you for hosting me, Patsy. 

Thanks for the advice, Melissa!

You can buy Melissa's books here (or here if you're in the US)

She also has a newsletter which you can sign up for here.

Friday, 18 September 2015

Write Idea

This competition is a great opportunity for anyone who has never been published or won a competition before. There's a top prize of £300 on offer for a short story, on any theme, of up to 3,000 words. (UK residents only)

The key to writing a winning story is, as the competition name suggests, a really good idea. Maybe one of this lot will unlock your creativity?

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Brand new

OK, brand new is a phrase and not a word and this may be more of a rant than an explanation*, but this has been bothering me for a while ... Why do people (particularly those in marketing) say something is brand new? The only definition I've been able to find is 'completely new'. But new is like pregnant, dead or unique - either you are or you're not. You can't be slightly pregnant or fairly unique and an object can't be just a little bit new.

While I'm ranting, semi-naked is just as bad. There's no such thing. A person may not be wearing many clothes, but saying someone who's removed their shirt is semi-naked is like referring to someone as mildly dead. (Unlike the people who built the spynx who are really, totally and absolutely completely dead)

Are there any redundant or illogical expressions which annoy you?

*See the comments for that.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

So you think you can write?

No, I'm not being sarcastic (I quite often am, but not when it comes to my friends' writing). So you think you can write is the title of a romance writing competition. There's not long left to get your entry in, but if you do have something suitable it's probably worth a try as the top prize is a two book contract with Harlequin.

My grandma used to grow a rose called Harlequin. There isn't one of that variety in the photo, but it's a romantic image, don't you think?

Monday, 14 September 2015

Purple pumpkin

This site has a monthly short story competition with varying word counts and a different word of phrase to be incorporated. There's a €10 prize, plus the winner and their story will be feature on the website and on social media.

The word count for September is 900 and the key word is chocolate. I don't grow pumpkins and I've eaten all the chocolate, but I can always do purple. These are autumn crocus.

Purple Pumkin are also open to a wide variety of book submissions.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

A poem what I wrote

I don't really do poetry, but now and again I forget that and a few lines sneak out. My most recent effort was selected for a small anthology and yesterday, at the launch I read it out.

That was the first time I've ever done a public reading of any of my work. I did read something at my wedding, but I'm not sure that counts.

Note the scarf - that's my poet disguise. I had sandals on too. Seemed to work.

The latest poem is up on my website, in case you fancy reading it.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Uncommon wealth

The top prize for the Commonwealth writers competition is £5,000. There are also five regional prizes of £2,500.

To enter you'll need to submit an unpublished short story of 2 to 5,000 words by 1st November - and be a citizen of a commonwealth country.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015


Travail, or travails, is a situation involving a lot of hard work or difficulty. Eg the travails of book promotion. Apparently just bunging up a link and hoping people will buy it isn't enough. (But I'm going to try that anyway.)

Here's where you can buy my book!

Travels is something different altogether - I hope if you have any trips planned they don't involve any travail.

Monday, 7 September 2015

Speculative health

Thanks to Gail Aldwin for passing on the link to this sci-fi competition. There's a health and medicine theme. You have almost five months, up to 3,000 words and several idea possibilities are offered to get you started. Top prize is £300.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

In case you missed it.

Just a reminder that my novel, 'A Year and A day' is on special offer at 99p/99c - but only until tomorrow.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Poetry wanted.

Kishboo magazine are now open to poetry submissions.

Editor Sharon Boothroyd tells me the requirements are, "A max of 40 lines, a min of 10 and poems should be light- hearted, clean and rhyming. We can't accept erotica or poetry for children, and we don't want any swearing. We can't pay but we can provide links to blogs/ sites/ books ect."

Please send submissions to

Short fiction is also welcome, but should be submitted as part of their ongoing competition, for which there's a £3 entrance fee.

Here's a poem of mine, just to give you an idea of what not to send!

I've heard that as people get older
some of them grow increasingly bolder
if that happens to you
keep your clothes on do
Otherwise you'll become much colder

Friday, 4 September 2015

Sail into success?

Thanks to Alyson for passing on the details of this travel writing competition. Up to 750 words of fact or fiction about water related travel are required and the prize is £100.

I really should be able to come up with something for that!

Wednesday, 2 September 2015


Time for another Insecure Writer's Support Group post. If you're a writer who ever feels insecure, or
would like to support those of us with insecurities, then do join.

My insecurities this month aren't so much over the writing - that's actually going pretty well at the moment - but over marketing. Anyone who hopes to sell books, whether traditionally published or not, will have to get involved in the business of marketing. It's not a skill which comes naturally to many writers, me included.

I expect I'm further hampered by being British. Obviously there are exceptions, but we're generally not great at telling people we're awesome and we're reluctant to bother people. Standing in a corner mumbling, 'I've written a book but you probably won't be interested', isn't going to win over many customers, is it?

As I have written a fabulous (and fun) new book 'Firestarter' which I want people to read, clearly something had to be done. So I've taken a bravery pill and got started. One of my awesome* ideas was to send out a terrific newsletter. The first one has gone out and as far as I know nothing horrible happened as a result** ... If you'd like to sign up to get the next one, you can do it here.

Another wonderful initiative was to do a price reduction on an earlier novel. You can get the marvellous*** A Year and A Day for the wonderful bargain price of 99p/99c during the first week of this month. That's NOW!

What do you think, am I on the right track? Have I overdone it, or is there more I could do?

*the italics are so I can pretend I'm being ironic and/or it's someone else saying it.

** ooops, went all British again there.

*** Actually it's not terrible. Some reviewers gave it 5 stars.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

A Year and a Day

The e version of my novel A Year and a Day is on special offer all this week. Instead of £1.99 or $2.99 it's available for 99c /99c

Stella knows visiting a fortune teller is a stupid idea. It's just one more daft thing her best friend Daphne persuades her into. Orphaned Stella doesn't believe a word of the fortune teller's claims the family she longs for and a tall, dark handsome man are coming her way. The gypsy produces a letter, to be read in a year's time, which will prove the predictions true. 

Stella knows Daphne's fortune will be a self fulfilling prophesy. She's happy to encourage the part about Daffers working in an Italian Restaurant owned by the delicious Luigi. She's less keen on Daphne's attempts to manipulate both their lives to fit the promised fortunes. This starts with an attempt to pair up Stella and her boss 

Yes, Luigi introduces her to truffles, names cocktails after her and serenades her on the river. And yes, he only uses 'would you like dessert?' as a rhetorical question, but she isn't going to fall in love just because some gypsy said so. 

At least John, Daphne's incredibly annoying brother, is so unlike anyone's romantic hero image that Daphne's no longer trying to push him and Stella back together. So irritated is she, by her friend's determination to make their fortunes come true, Stella's even nice to John. Well nice-ish. That includes sharing her chocolate and dressing as a schoolgirl. 

When Daphne suffers a horrible accident, Stella changes her mind about the gypsy's promise which included a threat to her friend's safety. The only way to save Daphne, as foretold, seems to be to make the whole thing come true. That means stopping herself falling in love with the wrong man. Difficult, but that's the only way they'll both be healthy, happy and best of friends at the end of 'A Year and a Day.'