Friday, 24 May 2019

Friday Freebie – Badlands by Alyson Faye

Today's Friday Freebie is Badlands by Alyson Faye.

About the Author: Alyson lives in West Yorkshire with her husband, teen son and 4 rescue animals. She has been a teacher, a carer, a road safety instructor and a lifetime film buff. Currently she teaches creative writing workshops and writes dark fiction, both short (flash) and long. 

Her short stories have appeared in print in the anthologies, Women in Horror Annual 2, Stories from Stone, DeadCades:The Infernal Decimation, Coffin Bell Journal 1 and Crackers. Her debut flash fiction collection, Badlands, was published in January 2018 by indie publisher, Chapel Town Books and her own Trio of Terror - Supernatural Tales (all set in Yorkshire) came out in December 2018. Her flash fiction has appeared in several charity anthologies and can be heard on several podcasts. Her fiction has won, or been shortlisted in several competitions.

When not writing Alyson enjoys singing, swimming, crafting, time with her Labador, Roxy and eating chocolate, the darker the better.
Her blog can be found here.
Her amazon author page is here and she's on twitter as @AlysonFaye2.

About the book: The books contains tiny tales with long shadows. This is my debut collection of short shorts - a collection of thirty plus pieces drawing on my interests in old movies, churches, the Victorians, homelessness, the supernatural and the dark side of life. My WEA class tutor introduced me to the concept of writing taut and short ie under 500 words or even 100 worders and I took to this format - finding it both fun and a challenge. I realised I had built up enough over 3 years for a collection and I sent it off to an indie publisher who happily decided to run with it. The title, Badlands, also the title of a Martin Sheen film from 1973, (not seen it? I would recommend you seek it out) came to mind, as so many of the pieces explore the darker side when events tip into the weirdly strange.

Many of the tales are set in real locations or are drawn from my life or family :-  Doll Man is set in a local park's playground in Saltaire, the English Heritage Trust village built by mill owner Titus Salt in the nineteenth century, where I used to regularly take my young son. The Adelphi is a homage to Liverpool's once glittering hotel of that name; Cathedral Crow was inspired by walking in the cloisters of Norwich cathedral in Tombland and watching the birds roost in the stoneworks; Bouquet from Valletta came from a real life glimpse of a glorious garden and a conversation with its creator in that town; Bookworm is the most autobiographical- I am the child/girl in the story; Visiting Mum is based on my own family experiences of dementia. However a seed of fact may start the tale but fiction rapidly takes over. No crimes were committed by this author - unlike by the inhabitants of these pages. It is all imagination.  

Blurb: ‘Badlands' is a collection of flash fiction pieces, from drabbles of 100 words to longer pieces up to 1000 words. Many have been published on line and in anthologies, and short-listed or been placed in competitions. They have all been written during the last three years, the oldest pair being ‘Chestnuts for my Sweet’ and ‘A Guy for the Children’, both written in the autumn.

These short shorts reflect an interest in ghost stories, history especially the Victorians, old movies, derelict buildings, real life issues such as homelessness, and just the ‘what if’ factor of when a seemingly normal situation starts to tilt off centre, dangerously so.

You can buy the book as a paperback orebook here. To try to win a signed copy, posted to any UK address, simply leave a comment below by midnight on Wednesday . 

The winner will be announced next Friday.

Free ebook Are We Nearly Famous? by various authors.

If you'd like to offer one of your physical books as a Friday Freebie or to have your free ebook mentioned, do get in touch. Any form or genre considered.

Wednesday, 22 May 2019


Secrete is an interesting word in that it can mean almost the opposite of itself. 

In some cases secrete  means to put away, hide or conceal. I'm sometimes the secretor of seeds when visiting gardens (please keep my secretory secret!)

Secrete can also mean to produce something – a secretion. Our eyes may secrete tears (I'm not absolutely sure it is our eyes that do this, in fact I'm fairly sure it's a separate gland or duct or something, but the only alternative I could come up with was a festering wound secreting pus and frankly that's way too icky.)

If you've written a first novel, don't secrete it away in a draw – enter it in this competition and you could win a £20,000 advance, the services of a literary agent and guaranteed publication.

Wednesday, 15 May 2019


Reciprocity is 'the condition of being reciprocal'. It's doing something in return, mutual actions, give and take, inversely correspondent, complementary. 

After I plant flower seeds, they reciprocate by blooming. This act of reciprocation is then follwed by another – bees visit to collect food, pollinate my plants and continue a recrocating cycle.

Have you ever behaved reciprocally?  

If you win the £16,000 first prize, or even one of the three £8,000 awards for this free to enter playwriting competition, as a result of seeing it here, I hope you'll reciprocate my kindness in posting about it by buying me a cake. A big one. With a cherry on top.

p.s. I have a new collection of short stories out. Family Feeling is currently on sale for the reduced price of 99p (99c)

Friday, 10 May 2019

Friday Freebie

The winner of last week's Friday Freebie is Helen Lowry. Please contact me with the UK address you'd like your book sent to.

Sorry there isn't a new competition this week – stuff happened. (Nothing bad – just busy.) 

Wednesday, 8 May 2019


Lichen is the variously coloured mossy type stuff you often see on trees and rocks. It's composed of a fungus and alga in a symbiotic relationship. There are a LOT of different types.

Lichen is also the name of a skin disease, but let's not go there.

Lichenology is the study of lichens and things which have been lichened.

Personally I pronounce the word litch-in (as in litch-gate which I feel is appropriate because churchyards are a good place to see lichen). The alternative is to say it as though it were written liken. 

Lichen forms when something just stands about doing nothing. You can't afford to do that if you want to enter this free crimewriting competition, as it ends at the end of the month. The prize is a two book contract with Avon (an imprint of Harper Collins). 

Friday, 3 May 2019

Friday Freebie – A Year And A Day by Patsy Collins

The winner of last week's Friday Freebie Is Sharon Boothroyd. Please contact  Alyson with a UK postal address and she'll send it out in the next few days.
Today's Friday Freebie is A Year And A Day by Patsy Collins.

About the Author: 
Patsy Collins is a short story writer and novelist. Hundreds of her stories have appeared in magazines in the UK, Ireland, Sweden, South Africa and Australia. They've won competitions, been selected for anthologies and a few are included in her own themed short story collections. So far there are 16 of these, each containing at least 24 stories.

After winning a novel writing competition Escape To The Country (a romance) was published. Patsy's since published four more novels and co-authored From Story Idea to Reader – an accessible writing guide.

Patsy sometimes gives talks about, or readings of, her work and also presents workshops. If you'd like her to jump in the campervan and visit your group, do get in touch.

About the book:
A Year And A Day is a romance, with a touch of crime and hint of fortune telling. There's masses of delicious food and beautiful flowers, both things the author researched extensively.

Blurb: Despite Stella's misgivings, her best friend Daphne persuades her to visit a fortune teller. Rosie-Lee promises both girls will live long and happy lives. For orphaned Stella, the fortune teller's claims include the family she longs for and a tall, dark handsome man. Stella doesn't believe a word, so Rosie-Lee produces a letter, to be read in a year's time, which will prove her predictions are true.
Stella remains sceptical but Daphne is totally convinced. Daphne attempts to manipulate Stella's life, starting with an introduction to her new boss. Restaurant owner Luigi fits the romantic hero image perfectly. In complete contrast is Daphne's infuriating policeman brother John. Despite his childhood romance with Stella ending badly, he still acts as though he has a right to be involved in her life.
Soon John is the least of her worries. Daphne's keeping a secret, gorgeous simply Luigi just can't be trusted, romantically or professionally and both girls' jobs are at risk. Worse still, John's concerns for their safety are proved to be justified.

John, and Rosie-Lee's letter, are all Stella has to help put things right.

You can buy the book as a paperback or ebook here. To try to win a signed copy, posted to any UK address, simply leave a comment below by midnight on Wednesday. 

The winner will be announced next Friday, when there will also be the chance to win another book.

Free ebook The Blight and the Blarney by Rosemary J Kind.

Wednesday, 1 May 2019


Void means empty or vacant, it can be an unfilled space (literal or metaphorical) even a vacuum. The inside of The Sphere is just a void.

When we sold our old campervan nothing could fill the void in my life (until we picked up the new one!)

It describes something useless or ineffectual. In a legal sense it means invalid. 

A thing, place or situation may display voidness, or be voidable - they don't sound like real words, do they?

Voided isn't the past tense of void – that's something used in heraldry where the central area is cut away to show the field. 

Today's the first Wednesday of the month, so this is an Insecure Writer's Support Group post. Do join us if you'd like to.

I submit a lot of work to editors. Sometimes I'm sometimes a little nervous about doing so, especially when pitching or submitting somewhere new, but it's not a major insecurity. 

Like everyone who attempts to get work published I get rejections. Of course I'm not happy about any of them, and from time to time they'll dent my confidence a little, but they're just a part of the process we have to accept. Even if we're initially upset or deflated we'll get over it and move on.

What I really dislike, and which does cause me to feel insecure, is sending my work into the void and never hearing back. Did it arrive? Should I chase it up? Can I send it somewhere else? I hate the not knowing – and it goes on and on. Will they reply this week?  Or next? 

Eventually I send a polite query. Was it too soon? Will they be annoyed? Why haven't they replied to that? Did the query reach them?

What do you do if you don't hear back – and how soon do you do it? And how many times?

If you submit to this free to enter novel writing competition you won't entirely be casting your work into a void, as although unsuccessful entrants won't be contacted you can check the shortlist in September and will know if you made it that far. The winner gets £3,000 – which might fill a void in your bank account!

If you haven't entered Friday's competition to win a paperback, there's still time to enter and if you'd like a bargain ebook, you can download Keep It In The Family, a collection of 25 feel good family related stories is reduced to 99p (99c) for the next few days..

Friday, 26 April 2019

Friday Freebie – Trio of Terror by Alyson Faye

The winner of last week's  Friday Freebie book is Frances Garrood.   Please contact me with a UK postal address and I'll send it out in the next few days.

Today's Friday Freebie is Trio of Terror by Alyson Faye.

About the Author: Alyson lives in West Yorkshire with her husband, teen son and 4 rescue animals. She has been a teacher, a carer, a road safety instructor and a lifetime film buff. Currently she teaches creative writing workshops and writes dark fiction, both short (flash) and long. 

Her short stories have appeared in print in the anthologies, Women in Horror Annual 2, Stories from Stone, DeadCades:The Infernal Decimation, Coffin Bell Journal 1 and Crackers. 

Her debut flash fiction collection, Badlands, was published in January 2018 by indie publisher, Chapel Town Books and her own Trio of Terror - Supernatural Tales (all set in Yorkshire) came out in December 2018. Her flash fiction has appeared in several charity anthologies and can be heard on several podcasts. Her fiction has won, or been shortlisted in several competitions. Find all her books here.

When not writing Alyson enjoys singing, swimming, crafting, time with her Labador, Roxy and eating chocolate, the darker the better.

About the book: Trio of Teror contains hree tales of the supernatural from the dark heart of Yorkshire

Living in Yorkshire and getting out and about with my cross Labrador, Roxy, I drew on both my local history knowledge and our trips to Filey and Scarborough as the backdrops to these three supernatural tales of quiet horror. The first, 'The Resurrection of the Reverend Greswold' is set in a church which was inspired by an actual derelict church, up for auction, along with its graveyard, outside Halifax. I couldn't help but wonder who would want a graveyard as a back garden? 'Swan Song' is set in Filey, where we've holidayed many times and the last tale, 'Hospital Blues' is a time slip story, set just after WW1 and in present day Bingley, the market town where I live. There was a closed-up hospital in the town which I walked past regularly and a few local street names crept in too. I am drawn to derelict buildings and enjoy researching their history; I read quite a bit about the rehabilitation of soldiers during/after WW1 for that one. I wrote the story in the centennial anniversary of the end of the war after visiting a number of local exhibitions and going to a few talks. It seemed a timely topic.

Blurb: A trio of terrifying, haunting tales to torment your dreams; an aperitif to set the scene for horror writer Alyson Faye's upcoming collection due out in 2019. Are you brave enough to step into her dark world? What is on the other side? This trio of stories are set in Yorkshire, in the seaside resort of Filey; in BIngley, at a hospital for soldiers injured in the Great War (written to coincide with the 100 year anniversary of the war's conclusion) and another is inspired by a derelict church outside Halifax.

You can buy the book as a paperback or ebook here. To try to win a signed copy, posted to any UK address, simply leave a comment below by midnight on Wednesday 1st May. The winner will be announced next Friday, when there will be another free book to win.

Free ebook Are We Nearly Famous? by various authors is currently available as a free download.

Wednesday, 24 April 2019


To go withershins means to travel in a direction contrary to the sun's course and is sometimes thought to be unlucky. Another meaning of withershins is anticlockwise.

Withershins can also be wrtten as widdershins. I'm not sure which version I like best – do you have a preference?

Did you leave a comment on this post to be in the draw for a paperback copy of Escape To The Country? You have until midnight to try.

Friday, 19 April 2019

Friday Freebie – Escape To The Country by Patsy Collins

The Friday Freebie is a new feature for this blog. Each time it runs, there will be a chance to win a paperback, just by leaving a comment.

I'm kicking things off with my own book, Escape To The Country.

About the author: Patsy Collins spends her time making things up and writing them down from her home in Lee-on-the-Solent or whilst travelling in a campervan. She is the author of five novels, sixteen themed collections of short stories, and half of From Story Idea to Reader – an accessible guide to writing fiction. Hundreds of her short stories have been published in women's magazines worldwide. Learn more at

Patsy runs two blogs for writers. This one regularly features free to enter writing competitions, and Womagwriter contains all the guidelines and information needed to submit fiction to woman's magazines in the UK and abroad.

About the book: Escape To The Country won a novel writing competition. It was the first book I had published – on my birthday the year I got married! (It's one of that version on offer today.) Since then the publisher ceased trading (not my fault!) and I've self published it with a different cover.

Blurb: Leah is accused of a crime she didn't commit. She escapes to Aunt Jayne's smallholding in the countryside to clear her name. Soon she falls in love with Duncan, a dishy tractor driver, and has much bigger problems to deal with than missing money.

Does she want to swap her career in London for farm work? Is Duncan really the rescuing hero he seems? Just when it seems life can't get any more complicated, a fire destroys everything Leah had worked towards. She learns many of those closest to her have lied – and one of them is the real embezzler.

You can buy the book as a paperback or ebook here. To try to win a signed copy, posted to any UK address, simply leave a comment below by midnight on Wednesday 22nd April. (If the winner already owns this book, I'll send an alternative.)

The winner will be announced next Friday, when there will also be the chance to win a book by Alyson Faye.

Making Changes by Mary Grand is currently available as a free ebook.

Oh and No Family Secrets isn't free – but the ebook is on offer for the next few days at 99p/99c. 

Wednesday, 17 April 2019


Cosy, as I'm sure you know, means comfortable and warm. It can also mean friendly, as in a cosy relationship

Less favourably the word can be used to imply complacency. It probably is a good plan to leave the cosiness of the easy and familiar to try something different occasionally.

A cosy can be a canopied seat for two, or something intended to keep something else warm – usually a pot of tea or a boiled egg. My friend Anne Rainbow gave me this lovely tea cosy.

Cosy crime is a genre of writing, which although it may deal with terrible crimes avoids gore and gruesomely graphic details. I think this book qualifies – it's warm too.

The prize for this free to enter short story competition is a cosy pair of writing gloves. I've absolutely nothing against cash as a competition prize, but I have a soft spot for those which offer something more unusual. Perhaps that's because my first ever writing success (17 years ago!) earned me cake and books tokens.

What's the cosiest thing you can think of?

Monday, 15 April 2019

Book promotion stuff

I'm a featured author on Book Hippo today! My free ebook, Not A Drop To Drink, gets a mention.

One of my collections of 25 family related stories is on sale for 99p/99c (and similar offers will follow for my other books in the family range). 

Of course I'm not the only person with books to promote. I've been wondering whether this blog could offer an opportunity for others to do that.

My idea is that the author would write a guest post about their book and offer a free copy to one person, who'd be selected from amongst those who left a comment.

Does that make sense? Would you be interested in taking part, either as an author or by trying to win a copy?

Shall I start if off with one of my own books?

Wednesday, 10 April 2019


To assuage is to calm or soothe a person or issue. It also means to relieve or appease an appetite or desire. 

My wish to travel around in our campervan and visit castles and stuff can only be assuaged by travelling around in our campervan and visiting castles and stuff. If Gary reads this post and takes the hint then he'll be an assuager and the resulting trip will be a form of assuagement.

If like me you enjoy travelling, then don't forget the 'Just Back' travel writing competition. It's free to enter and there's a weekly £250 prize – winning that might assuage your guilt over how much you spent on ice creams!

And if you fancy trying other non-fiction writing competitions, you'll find lots here. (Unlike the ones I feature here, not all these are free to enter.)

I'm not at all keen on promoting my books, but having them on price promotion helps assuage my reluctance. Keep It In The Family, a collection of 25 family themed stories, is currently available for 99p/99c. 

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Scene and IWSG

A scene is a place where events (real or fictional) take place. It can also be a description of an event, or a continuous portion of a play, film or book  – those are usually what we mean be a scene in writing.

If you display strong emotions in public then you could be accused of making a scene. The view or landscape can also be considered a scene. Is the photo a tranquil woodland scene, or about to become the scene of the crime?

A scene can also be a way of life, subculture or interest.

Today, I'm one of the Insecure Writer's Support Group co-hosts along with J.H. Moncrieff Natalie Aguirre and Chemist Ken who're all supporting our Ninja Captain Alex.

This month's optional question is –  If you could use a wish to help you write just ONE scene/chapter of your book, which one would it be? (examples: fight scene / first kiss scene / death scene / chase scene / first chapter / middle chapter / end chapter, etc.)

I have several free to enter writing competitions for you today. Whether you enter this sci-fi/horror short story competition, these stage and radio play competitions, this one for prose up to 17,000 words or even the monologue competition, you'll probably need scenes in your work.

Is entering writing competitions your scene? (If it is, keep coming back – I add more free entry ones most weeks.)

Wednesday, 27 March 2019


If something is thalassic then it's of the sea or seas. The view from our campervan is often thalassic.

A thalossophile is someone who loves the sea. Do you think I qualify?

Friday, 22 March 2019

A regular thing?

Creative Writing Ink run a monthly free to enter writing competition, with a small cash prize. Entries must be in English and unpublished, but anyone of any nationality may enter.

I'm currently away in the West Country, presenting a writing workshop. This won't become a monthly thing, and they won't always be in the same part of the UK, but I do plan to run more workshops in the future. 

Wednesday, 20 March 2019


Thanks to Suzy Warren who made me aware of the word aquafaba.

You know how tinned kidney beans and chickpeas are always in a slightly goopy liquid, not just plain water? Well that's aquafaba. (Yes, there really is a word for everything no matter how obscure). Most of us either drain this liquid off and discard it, or tip it along with the pulses into whatever we're cooking, but you could do more with it.

This stuff can be whipped up like egg whites and used in meringues, mouses and artsy blobs of foam in pricey restaurants. If you regularly cook for someone who doesn't eat eggs then it might be worth giving it a go. I was fairly sure I wouldn't bother until I found these recipe suggestions and I'm now quite tempted.

Had you heard of aquafaba? Ever eaten it?

Wednesday, 13 March 2019


Allide isn't a word you hear much. I don't think I'd have come across it myself if I didn't happen to be married to a handsome and extremely talented maritime photographer (that's me in Brownie points for a while!)

You know what collide means, I expect. Well, allide is like that, but only one of the objects is moving. Just as you can witness a collision when two moving objects strike each other, an allision is the action of a moving object hitting a stationary object.

Allision seems to be used almost exclusively in connection with ships. Sometimes one allides against another, more commonly a pier or mooring pontoon is involved.

This is Norwegian Epic. She recently allided with a pier in Puerto Rico. (And you thought I was making this up, didn't you?)

Monday, 11 March 2019


I'm today's guest on the Write Club podcast. My bit starts at 26 minutes in and is mainly about writing for the womag market, but there's also a littlet on writing for competitions and a top tip for novels! 

This was my second podcast interview (you can listen to the first one here.) The books mentioned in either podcast can be found here.

After taking in part in just two podcasts I now feel totally qualified to offer tips to anyone considering accepting a podcast interview request.

1) Go for it – It's in the interviewers' interest for your interview to be as good as possible, so they'll help all they can by asking the right questions and giving you an idea of those questions in advance. They'll also cut out any bits where you clam up, talk total rubbish etc

2) Try not to say 'you know' quite as often as I did! I've no idea where that came from as I'm fairly sure I don't do it in regular conversations.

3) Ask if you can have the video on, unless that will make you more uncomfortable. I did the first one without and the second with – it was easier when I could see my interviewer's reactions.

4) If there's anything you particularly want to say, or you'll need to give complicated or detailed information, make a note of it to refer to. Otherwise think about how you'll answer the questions, but don't write yourself a script. Reading it won't sound natural and if the question isn't phrased quite how you expected you might find your prepared answer doesn't quite fit.

5) Afterwards, try not to dwell on how weird your voice is and the fact that you sound as though you wanted to cry even though you actually quite enjoyed the experience.

Saturday, 9 March 2019

The Lindisfarne Prize

Thanks to Beatrice Charles for passing on the details of this free to enter writing competition. The winner will get editorial and mentoring help to finish their work, membership of ALLi and SoA, and £2,500.

Bea did wonder if the competition would have wide enough appeal to be included on my blog – it's open to unpublished adults "who are resident in, or whose work celebrates, the North of England in the genre of crime or thriller fiction." But as she pointed out, I've been to Lindisfarne and this would give me an opportunity to post some of my photos.

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Secure in busyness

It's time for another Insecure Writer's Support Group post. This is a monthly blog hop thing, which is just part of what the IWSG get up to. If you fancy joining, just click on the link and bung in your details.

I have a lot going on at the moment – and it's been that way for a while. I've just come back from a weekend Bookfest, where I was one of the panelists on a talk about self publishing, my article on copyright is in Writing Magazine, and a podcast interview about writing for women's magazines will be released soon.

I'm writing lots of short stories, working on a non-fiction book, entering competitions and preparing for the three day writer's workshop I'm presenting with a friend at the end of the month. The good thing about being really busy is that there's no time left for procrastination and insecurities, so I'm having to give those a miss for a while. No doubt I'll squeeze them into my busy schedule later in the year!

My non writing life is quite hectic too (in good ways). That's why there's no Wednesday word of the week – I've just not had time to do it. Maybe you'd like to share your favourite words instead?

I did manage to find another free to enter competition. If you fancy winning a writing retreat in Greece take a look at this.