Wednesday, 19 September 2018


To be on your tod means to be alone. If you're British, the chances are you knew that – but did you know the phrase originated as Cockney rhyming slang? The Tod in question was a jockey called Tod Sloan. Whether he was most often alone at the front or the back of the field, I can't tell you.

Alternatives are on your pat (Pat Malone) and on your Jack (Jack Jones). Who Pat and Jack were is something else I can't tell you. Maybe that's something you can tell me?

Here's me apparently on my tod in Rhodes.

Friday, 14 September 2018

Words about Wordsmag

I mention Wordsmag a couple of times a year as there are two annual, free entry competitions. The results of the first one for 2018 are here – you'll probably recognise some names ;-). The second, with the theme of murder, is currently open and offers a first prize of £50. You can enter here.

I asked the editor of Wordsmag to tell me a bit more about himself and the publication...

Shaun Peare is an ex-Civil Servant, is married and lives in London. He is an experienced editor, writer, publisher and says, "I have been involved in writing for over forty-five years and in publishing since 1989 – editing and publishing a quarterly magazine of short stories showcasing writing talent from around the world".

Founded nearly thirty years ago Words is now an online magazine designed especially for people who love reading stories that lift the spirit – without a religious slant. Stories that lift the heart – without being gushily romantic. Tales that intrigue – without tormenting the reader’s brain.

WORDS aims to bring you new material by published professional writers, and also by accomplished and enthusiastic amateur storytellers... men and women of all ages, persuasions and walks of life.

Past issues have included writers of the calibre of Patrick Nicholson, Alanna David, S. Bee and others, many of them winners or shortlisted entrants from the prestigious Ian St. James Awards.

Each issue of this quarterly publication contains perhaps a dozen short stories compiled from entries to our competitions. Full details can be seen at
Even more heartening is the discovery that all work on the magazine is entirely voluntary and that all profit from this magazine goes to help in supporting the work of the RNLI – the charity that saves lives at sea!

Wednesday, 12 September 2018


Mull can mean to think ponderously or deeply. E.g. Patsy mulled over an idea for her next novel. I do a lot of mulling.

Alternatively it's a soft muslin fabric, a layer of humus, or the practice of heating liquid, usually wine, with spices to make a delicious warming drink.

There's a good reason for Mull being today's word of the week – it's the Scottish island in the inner Hebrides where the mobile writing retreat is currently located.

Monday, 10 September 2018

Here be monsters?

Thanks to Beatrice for alerting me to the Monster Micro Fiction Competition. Glory seems to be the only prize, but then they're only asking for 18 words and it looks like fun.

We've encountered various birds and beasts so far in our travels around Scotland. No monsters though, despite having sailed up and down Loch Ness. I'll keep looking ...

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Doing it my way

"What publishing path are you considering/did you take, and why?"

That's the optional question for this month's Insecure Writer's Support Group post. I started writing short stories which I hoped would be published in women's magazines. I did that because my creative writing tutor (June Hampson) told me too!

The process is very simple – write stories according to their guidelines and send them directly to the fiction editors (you can find all the guidelines and other useful information here). I was fortunate in that I already enjoyed reading that type of story and my own writing style was a fairly close fit. I've had a reasonable amount of success over the years and still write and submit short stories i the same way – and I enter some of the competitions I mention on this blog.

With my novels I first attempted to get signed by an agent, as I thought that's what you were supposed to do. Once I realised there were publishers you could submit to directly, I tried that too – and had some near misses. I also got encouraging results in novel writing competitions and eventually had my first novel published as the result of winning one. That was exciting – I did a book signing in Waterstones, did some radio interviews and some libraries stocked copies ...

Then the publisher went bust and I got the rights back. That was closely followed by changes in my personal circumstances which meant I began travelling much more. I decided to self publish the book, and then some others. This gives me the freedom and flexibility which currently suits me. Other than some short stories collections and a non-fiction book published through Alfie Dog Fiction, all my books are now self published and that situation will probably continue.

Saturday, 1 September 2018

On top of things

I've been a bit quiet online lately, as we're touring Scotland (yes, again). As we prefer the more remote places, internet access tends to be limited.

A few days ago we climbed up a mountain – something I've wanted to do for a long time. It was a fabulous, though exhausting, day.

We choose Ben Wyvis. That's it – right behind that rainbow – the evening before our climb.

Thankfully visibility was better the next morning.

Proper mountaineers might not think much of our efforts, but reaching the top (it's 1046 metres) was plenty challenging enough for me.

I look like I've climbed a mountain, don't I?

While I've been off travelling, friends have kept me supplied with information.

Thanks to Alyson for telling me about this free to enter writing competition. And to Beatrice for the details of this publication opportunity.

And of course to Gary for getting me up there.

Wednesday, 29 August 2018


A kyle is the term for a narrow channel between islands, or an island and the mainland – but only in Scotland. There's one between the island of Skye and the Scottish mainland, called the Kyle of Lochalsh (because it's at the end of Loch Alsh). I think this is it ...

There's also a village called the Kyle of Lochalsh. There are other places in the area with Kyle in the name, such as Kylerhea and Kyleakin. My navigation is haphazard at best, so we sometimes visit places we hadn't intended too. Luckily the whole area is so beautiful that we're rarely disappointed, wherever we end up.

A reminder – my new short story collection, Perfect Timing is currently on offer for 99p / 99c.

Sunday, 26 August 2018

Perfect Timing

My latest short story collection Perfect Timing is available now. For the next few days it'll be at the introductory price of 99p / 99c after that it will be £1.99 / $2.99.

Perfect Timing

Whether we have long hours to fill, or not a moment to spare, time plays an important part in all our lives. We might not watch the clock, but we can't escape the impact of the seconds ticking away. Time waits for no woman, neither will it accelerate at her command. It's no more considerate of men, children and teddy bears.

Being a little early, or late, can have a big impact; it could mean missing a train, inheritance, or much needed meal. Or help us catch a crook, rescue a neighbour, show us what's really important. Maybe it's not our own timekeeping we have to worry about, but that of loved ones, colleagues or adversaries.

You can read each of the stories in this book in just a few minutes, or enjoy all 25 at once over several hours.

Shares, retweets and other mentions on social media will be very much appreciated.

Wednesday, 22 August 2018


An oddity is a strange thing, person, occurrence or a peculiar trait. It can also mean the state of being odd.

When I was a kid, some people considered me a bit of an oddity, but they didn't know I was going to become a writer. As writers go, I don't think I'm especially weird. I'm barely eccentric really, if you catch me on a good day.

Are you an oddity?