Monday, 30 July 2018

Seriously Awkward

Thanks to Sharon Boothroyd for passing on the details of this free to enter short story competition. You're asked tho write a story of up to 2,000 words on the theme of '16 and 17 year olds'. (It's fine if you're that age yourself, but not if you're younger. There's no upper age limit.) Unpublished writers only.

The prize is 'expert advice and feedback from a top literary agent' and 'writing goodies'. I expect there will be useful publicity too.

Were you an awkward teenager? I spent a lot of time doing daft things in order to hide the fact I was very shy. I've now got absolutely no idea why I felt it was so important to hide that terrible secret.

Friday, 27 July 2018

We nearly died!

The current On The Premises competition is for a short story involving a near death experience. You have from 1,000 to 5,000 words and until the end of August to come up with something. The prize is $220.

We didn't nearly die on our walk to the lighthouse on Scalpay because we followed the nice, clear path. The weather was good, we had proper walking boots and water. I think it was about two miles to get there.

Once we'd photographed the lighthouse, we noticed a signpost offering an alternative route back which was slightly longer; another half mile if I remember correctly. As we had plenty of time (it was midsummer so wouldn't be dark for hours) and it was a coastal path, that seemed like a good idea.

To start with there were way markers making navigation easy, but after a while these had either been knocked flat by sheep having a scratch, or were obscured by bracken. By the time we'd walked for a couple of hours, waded through a bog, and couldn't see the lighthouse, van, houses or people, we concluded I'd done my usual trick of following a sheep track rather than a footpath. Then that ran out...

As it was a small island, Gary pointed out that if we just followed the coast, we'd eventually come across where we'd parked, the causeway or, if we were even more lost than we realised, the lighthouse again. (That was sensible, but don't be too impressed – he'd followed me down that sheep track, despite me having considerable form in taking us down them and getting lost.)

It worked. We had some very steep climbs up, and rather alarming scrambles back down rock faces, more bog wading, stretches where the bracken was so tall and dense we couldn't see each other, and we became very, very hungry.

Actually we didn't nearly die on the walk back from the lighthouse on Scalpay. We eventually got ourselves back to the van, had tea and cake and were fine. The time we nearly died was on South Uist. You see there was this interesting looking track heading up into the mountain. There were sheep on it ...

Wednesday, 25 July 2018


Heritage is generally understood to mean historic buildings, monuments and attractive countryside, especially if they're in need of preservation or conservation. (The excellent English Heritage charity is very aptly named.)

It can also mean anything which is inherited – from curly hair to diamond necklaces.

Senior Travel Expert are running a free to enter competition with the theme of heritage.

You have 750 words and until the end of October to write a piece of fiction or non fiction. The first prize is £100.

Monday, 23 July 2018

Looking good?

Thanks to Sharon Boothroyd and Jacqui Cooper for letting me know about this competition from Carers UK. You can enter up to two poems and one story on the theme of ‘keeping well, keeping connected’.

The top prize in each category is £100 of High Street vouchers and £125 of Specsaver's vouchers. I couldn't see anything stating entrants must be from the UK, but the prize won't be much good to you if you're not.

I used to be told my best look was 'three miles away in thick fog', which I feel was harsh. I reckon I can easily get away with 'at a distance with a lovely beach to detract attention'.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018


A riptide is a strong surface current from the shore. A rip is a stretch of rough water caused by the meeting of two or more currents. Both can be very dangerous to swimmers and people floating around on lilos and the like.

Riptide can also be used to describe a state of conflicting psychological forces. That doesn't sound a whole lot more fun than being washed out to sea, does it?

The publishers of Riptide journal have a call for submissions open until August 30th. I couldn't find any details of payment, so I'm not sure any is offered. They're also running a competition. That's not strictly free to enter, as you're required to purchase a copy of Riptide, but studying the market before having a go is a good idea, so maybe you won't mind that. The prize is £50.

Monday, 16 July 2018

City sights

Everything with Words are looking for "a vibrant debut novel for young adults, a book set in today’s multi-cultural Britain. Sharp dialogue, a story that’s got the feel of here and now, the street and  the city today. Atmosphere is important, both physical and psychological. It can be any city in the UK but it must be a real city."

The prize is £1,000 and publication. UK residents only. Entries close 30th November.

I've been to some UK cities – can you guess in which any of these photos were taken?

Wednesday, 11 July 2018


If the word liveable is applied to a building, area, climate etc it means that it's fit to live in. When applied to a life, it means one which is worth living and when it's a person, they're someone you can get along with.

The ease with which these things may be achieved will depend on the standards of liveability which you demand.

If you like you can also spell liveable as livable.

Gary and I happily spend months at a stretch in the van, which just goes to show how chock full of livableness we both are. Especially me ;-)

Friday, 6 July 2018

Random stuff

If you're not getting email notification when people comment on your blog, and want to, try this. (Thanks to Amanda Fleet for finding that link and passing it on.)

I've got stories in both the current issue of My Weekly magazine and Take A Break's Fiction Feast.

These photos are a few of those which I took of Mottisfont Abbey gardens (Hampshire, England). The National Trust (who own Mottisfont) will be using a selection of my pictures in their twitter feed (and maybe other social media sites) next week.

Four collections of 24 of my flower and garden related stories are now available. Over The Garden Fence includes a story set at Mottisfont.

It's so warm that if we went back to the gardens today, I'd be VERY tempted to dip my toes in that pond. Do you think anyone would mind?

Wednesday, 4 July 2018


Ultimate means last or final, maximum, best and that beyond which no other exists. It can also mean fundamental or un-analysable or a final fact or principle.

Have you ever noticed that when climbing uphill, you keep thinking the bit you're on is the ultimate peak, but you discover it's a false summit and you have to go on until ultimately you reach the ultimateness which really is the top?

If you're the ultimate winner of this free to enter short story competition, you'll win £500 (UK residents only).

See yesterday's post for the IWSG and my ultimate writing goals.

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Shifting goals – and a touch of insecurity

"What are your ultimate writing goals, and how have they changed over time (if at all)?"

They've had to change! When I started writing, 16 years ago, I didn't have any aims at all. It was just something to do. Then after a year or so I decided I wanted to get a story published in a magazine. I've achieved that (several hundred times over). Then I decided I wanted to win a competition, which I did. The next plan was to write a novel and when I'd managed that it shifted to having one published.

Escape To The Country was first published in 2012 as the result of my winning a novel writing competition. (The picture is of me doing a booksigning in Waterstones) The publishers went out of business, by which time my goals had shifted again and I self published it. Now I have five novels and twelve short story collections available (mostly self published).

My next goal was to write an article. I've done that too, actually more than one, on different subjects but mostly about writing, and co-authored From Story Idea to Reader - an accessible guide to writing fiction.

Workshops form part of my current ultimate goal. It's a long term project, but I've delivered a few already, and am booked up to do more this coming winter, such as this one in Devon.

Gosh that sounds like an awful lot of bragging! Maybe it actually is, but there's a point to it. If you set yourself goals, and you work towards them, then you stand a chance of achieving them.

If you'd like to have something published in a women's magazine, then visit the womagwriter blog. It has all the guidelines you need to submit, plus news and tips. If competitions are more your thing, keep an eye on this blog as I regularly post details of free to enter competitions, many with cash prizes.

The opening question to this post is courtesy of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Do join up if you're an insecure writer (it might not look that way, but actually we all are at least some of the time).

The first Wednesday of the month has always been IWSG day. I've been doing it for years and it's always a Wednesday. This month it's Tuesday.

What are they trying to do to me? That kind of thing could make a girl insecure! (Apparently it's because there's some sort of party going on in the USA. Makes sense as a lot of members are American. I'm British, so ummm *tactful silence*).

Do you have writing goals? Have you achieved any of them?