Wednesday, 30 January 2019


Green is of course the colour made by combining blue and yellow pigments. A green is an area of grass, often used for sports or recreation (putting green, village green). Greens are vegetables of any colour (eat your greens if you want to stay healthy).

Green can be used negatively to mean unripe or unseasoned (green apples are sour and green wood is unsuitable for most carpentry) naive or envious.

More positively being green is to attempt to care for our environment in numerous ways including adopting sustainable practises, limiting waste, planting trees, collecting litter and avoiding plastics,.

The University of Southampton are running a variety of free to enter writing competitions with the theme of sustainable societies. They're looking for novels, film, stage and radio plays, interactive fiction and a TV series.

I'll be green with envy if you wn this playwriting competition from Papatango – the prize is £6,000! UK and Irish residents only. There's an option to get feedback on your work, which I'm sure would be very useful.

Are you green in any way?

Friday, 25 January 2019

Going away to write?

Here's a writing competition with a difference. Instead of having to write in order to enter, you get to do it as your prize – for three weeks, in September, in a castle, in France! You'll get fed and feedback, and 'experience intensive writing techniques'. It's free to enter – you just have to sign up for their newsletter and help spread the word.

I've never actually written inside a castle, but I do visit quite a few of them in the mobile writing retreat – including this one in France.

This weekend I'm going to be having an intense experience of my own, as I'm visiting Anne Rainbow to finalise arrangement's for our Writers' Workshop Weekend in Devon, in March. We ran one last year and several attendees are coming back. That's lovely – but does mean we need to prepare lots of new material. I'm looking forward to both the planning weekend and the event itself.

Wednesday, 23 January 2019


The word true has several meanings – in accordance with fact, genuine (as opposed to counterfeit), conforming to a standard, loyal, accurate, correctly balanced, honest and without variation (a true-bred Hereford cow always has a white face). It's truly a valuable word!

If you're truing something, you'll bring it into the correct form required e.g. aligning a wheel, so it runs true. One who does this trues, and afterwards they can be said to have trued. If this is done incorrectly, the result will be out of true.

Something which comes true actually happens, true ribs are attached to the breast bone (floating ribs are not) true north is determined by the earth's axis and magnetic north is somewhere else (I may travel a lot, but that hasn't improved my navigation skills! Those aren't even trueish.)

This competition from Spread the Word is for life writing – meaning it should be true. Write something full of trueness and you could win £1,500, an Arvon course and support with your writing. That's a truly great prize package!

No truth is required for this competition (except when complying with the rules). There's £1,000 on offer for writers and illustrators of children's books.

Want to read about true love? You can do that with my latest short story collection.

Friday, 18 January 2019

Worth a try?

Harpers Bazaar are running a short story competition. You have up to 2,500 words to write on the theme of 'Liberty'. As usual, for the competitions I mention on this blog, it's free to enter. The prize is publication in the magazine and a couple of nights in a very nice looking hotel in the Yorkshire Dales.

It was foggy when we drove over the Dales, so I don't have photos – but here's a castle that's in the general area.

Talking of getting stories published, one of mine will be in this Sunday's Love Sunday magazine (it comes with The Sunday People newspaper.) I'm hoping that some of those who enjoy it will be enticed to buy my books! Do you think it will work?

Wednesday, 16 January 2019


A cockatrice (or basilisk) is a mythical reptile whose breath and look can kill. It's also a fabulous heraldic animal composed of a cock with a serpent's tail.

Unfortunately, although I've photographed may heraldic creatures I'm yet to capture a cockatrice. I'll be looking out for one on this year's trips, mostly so I can inform innocent bystanders what it is, but also to take a picture.

Thanks to Bea Charles for telling me about a free competition in Prima magazine. They're looking for 800 word stories and offering a Writer's Bureau course for the winner. You have until the end of March to enter. I couldn't find details online, but you should be able to get the magazine in most UK newsagents. It's also often held in libraries.

Another free to enter competition offereing help and support to writers is this one from Spotlight Books. They're looking for fiction and poetry from authors from underepresented backgrounds (as defined on the entry form). Winning entrants will get help with editing and polishing and recieve a publishing contract.

If you can work the word cockatrice into entries for either of these I'll be very impressed.

Do you think you'll be using today's Wednesday word of the week in any way at all?

Monday, 14 January 2019

Yes! Yes! Yes!

Thanks to Bea Charles for telling me that The Lady are looking for 'love poems for married couples'. These should be emailed to by 25th of this month. The prize is publication for the winner and a copy of Love Poems for five runners-up.

I've sent in our wedding vows – although I can't remember whether or not we were technically married at the moment I read them, and I did borrow quite heavily from Pam Ayres' so they probably can't publish them anyway.

Friday, 11 January 2019

A sweet chance

My friend Anne Rainbow* has passed on details of an online publication opportunity with Winter Tangerine. Isn't that a great name? Their sister publication is Honeysuckle Press, and that publishes in print.

Winter Tangerine are looking for prose, poetry and visual art. They have quite detailed submission requirements, so do read and follow those.

Payment is a flat fee of $50.

*She's the person co-presenting the Hope Cove Writer's Workshop Weekend with me – and the one doing all the organising of that, plus other interesting events for writers in Devon.

Wednesday, 9 January 2019


I'm sure you're already aware that a cat is a grown up kitten, or any other member of the Felis family, such as a lion or tiger (often referred to as big cats). The term cat can also be applied to members of other species which have a catlike appearance.

If a person is described as a cat they'll almost certainly be female and definitely malicious or spiteful. To be catty is to behave as this kind of cat, not the furry four-legged version.

At one time I had a day job in which I used a cat. A cat-o'-nine-tails that is. This was a rope whip, used historically to punish sailors. It got its name from the nine knotted tails and the belief that cats have nine lives. I was gentle when I demonstrated. Well gentle-ish! (These cats were carried in bags – you didn't want to be around when the cat was let out of the bag.)

If you're a cat's paw then you're someone who is used by another, a cat burglar enters a building by climbing up to a window, balcony or roof and a cat and dog relationship is an argumentative one.

A person or thing described as the cat's whiskers or cat's pyjamas will be excellent in some way.

Here's a free to enter competition to win a three book deal with Choc Lit Publishing. The entry must feature a cat in some way. The snag is you only have until the end of next month to enter – now that's put the cat among the pigeons!

There are other phrases containing the word cat – can you think of any?

Saturday, 5 January 2019

Go hot!

I've only just come across these competitions. Although there's only nine days left in which to write a poem or essay I thought it was still worth giving them a mention. They're free to enter and the prize fund is £5,000 – doesn't that make it worth giving up a few lunch breaks or TV programmes to make time to have a go?

The themes are 'Wandering' and 'Fiery Dust'.  That gives me a good excuse to share my love of wandering about in the camper van, and setting light to things. (Not generally at the same time, although we do have an anti-midge citronella candle.)

My book Firestarter isn't based on me though – honest!

Do you have any plans to travel or write this year? Or will you set the world alight in some other way?

Wednesday, 2 January 2019


Happy New Year and happy Insecure Writer's Support Group posting day. 2019 and the first Wednesday of the month soon came round, didn't they?

I'm not actually feeling insecure right now. I refuse to dwell on anything which didn't go perfectly last year, instead I'm looking forward to all the good writing I might get done and the successes and sales which might result. I hope you too are starting the year with a certain amount of optimism?

The word soon means after a short interval of time. Eg if you'd like to enter this free competition from Forestry Commission England which offers unique access to the forests, support for your writing and £2,500 you should do so soon, as it closes on 14th January. Another free competition which closes fairly soon is the Nine Dots Prize, which offers $100,000 to write a short book answering the question, 'Is there still no place like home?'

There's no place like our camper van, which is home to us for several months each year. Here she is parked in the New Forest. (I can't tell you how smug I feel for finding a picture to represent both competitions at once!)

Or it can mean relatively early. Eg two minutes after submitting a piece of writing is too soon to
expect a reply.

Another use of soon is to show willingness or preference. Eg would you sooner write a poem or a story?

The phrase as soon as means at the moment of, or immediately Eg as soon as I start writing the typos appear. Sooner or later refers to a future unspecified time, as does soonish. They appear to imply something will happen soon, but generally that's not what's meant.

I'll be back with more free to enter writing competitions soon – hopefully with longer deadlines.