Wednesday, 1 April 2020

No fooling

It's April the first, which means that as well as it being Insecure Writer's Support Group day, it's also April Fool's.

In England, and some other countries, this is traditionally a time for spoofs and practical jokes. It's common to see photos of invisible stealth planes and ships which are really photos of nothing, or silly news stories by people with names made from the letters of April fool(s). This isn't a good day to trust anyone called Olaf or Flo!

One very important part is to get your fooling in, and reveal you've done so, by noon. If you wait until after twelve it's you, not your victim, who is the fool.

Although tempted to make up a spurious word for Wednesday Word of the Week today, I've resisted. Instead I'm sharing some fun pictures. Have you ever played an amusing April Fool's prank? Or been on the recieving end of a funny one?

You don't need to have been fooled in order to benefit from joining the Insecure Writer's Support Group, although I'm sure you'd find advice and sympathy if that were the case.

Members will help you through anything from constant self doubt about your writing abilities to momentary anxiety or where to place a comma.

Thanks to Alyson Hilbourne for this link to another free travel writing competition. There's a $100 

Thanks to Alyson Faye for passing on details of this free short story competition. The prize is a Google Home Mini and a seesion with the plot doctor!

Something else which is currently free – My garden themed short story collection Through The Garden Gate.

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Literary lady?

Literary means – of, constituting or occupied with books or written composition. Suppose that means I'm literary to some extent, as I'm often occupied with reading or writing.

To prove it, here are photos of me in libraries and bookshops.

You can also be described as literary if you're well informed about literature. Words or phrases which are used mainly in works of literature or other formal writing are considered literary.

I won't be doing another book signing for a while, but you can get your hands on my books here. (There are a couple of short free ones.)
This competition from Fitzcarraldo is for 'a book-length work of literary fiction written in English by published and unpublished writers around the world.' Entries close 1st July. The prize is publication and an avance of $10,000. 

There is no entry fee.

Even though I don't reckon it's what I write, I don't really know how to define 'literary fiction'? What does that phrase mean to you? What's the alternative?

Are you literary?

Wednesday, 18 March 2020

Poetic licence

This competition from Wergle Flump is for funny poems. The first prize is $1,000 and, as with all the competitions I blog about, it's free to enter.

If you know any poetic children, they might like to try this competition and be in with the chance of winning a £50 book token.

Thanks to Fiona for passing on the link to this poetry competition. The prize is publication in a pamphlet, 20 copies of the pamphlet and £75 cash. I'm very tempted to give it a try.

All three of these poems are free to enter.

I'm not really a poet, but I have twice had success with poetry. The first time I won a competition and earned cash, dinner and a slice of very blue cake.

The second time was even better – I wrote our wedding vows. Gary laughed at the bits about him being the one to do all the tidying and washing up until after the ceremony when he realised the whole thing was legally binding.

Do you ever write poetry? Will you be having a go at this competition?

Wednesday, 11 March 2020

The way ahead

Thank you to everyone who took the time to respond to this post on whether it was worthwhile me continuing with this blog. I was pleased to learn I have dozens of readers, not just the four or five it had appeared to me.

At least one person said they liked my photos, which is all the excuse I need to litter this post with a (very) random selection!

I was especially pleased to learn that not only do quite a few people enter the free competitions I regularly mention, but that some of you had been long listed, placed or even won! Each time I post up a link I hope that will happen. Learning that it actually does has cheered me up immensely.

I'm going to carry on, at least for a while. I won't make so many posts and will aim for those I do make to appear on Wednesdays (so I can continue with the Insecure Writer's Support Group and perhaps a few Wednesday words of the week).

I propose a deal. You keep leaving comments, and I'll keep posting – OK?

This post explains how you can do that.

Please let me know if you're planning to enter the competition, or say why it doesn't appeal. Ask questions, tell me what you're writing or share your news – especially if it's something to celebrate.

It appears that you're most interested in the links to free entry competitions – is that right?

Btw, if you've subscribed to the blog by email and wish to respond, you'll need to click on the link and add a comment – it's not possible to do this by replying to the email.

If you'd like to pass on details of free to enter competitions, or write an appropriate guest post then please contact me. I'd love to feature people who've won a writing competition, especially if it's one I've mentioned.

Here's a competition from Inkitt for horror writers. The prize includes $1,000, coaching, and 'a social media feature'. The stories will be published on the site and the winner decided by algorithm! The minimum word count is 20,000. It seems that multiple entries will be accepted. Closing date is the end of the month.

£10,000 is the top prize for this competition from The Alpine Fellowship. Work of up to 2500 words on the theme of forgiveness and retribution is wanted. Only one entry per person.

Both competitions are free to enter.

Friday, 6 March 2020

Is it worthwhile?

I've been having a think about how I use my time and if I could make better use of it. Blogging is one aspect I've been looking at.

As well as this blog I run WomagWriter. Both take up quite a bit of time – it's not so much the writing of the posts, but the finding of free writing competitions for this one, and attempting to ensure all the information and magazine submission guidelines on the other blog are accurate and up to date.

Both blogs generally only attract a handful of comments per post. Comments are the only real way for me to know the post was read and considered interesting or useful. I do look at the stats, but as these tell me over half of you are Russian I'm not convinced they're accurate. If there really are only six or so readers it doesn't seem worth me continuing. A writer of any kind is nothing without readers!

I've found a few more free to enter writing competitions, so will post up the links over the next few days. If they don't attract many comments I'll conclude it's not worth me searching for more.

I did mention this short story competition before, but as the prize is £15,000 and there's still time to enter I thought it was worth doing so again.

The organisers of this contest want poetry, short stories and art on the theme of springtime. Any genre and word count is acceptable. I have asked if there's any reward other than publication, but haven't yet recieved a response.

What do you think – is it worth me continuing to blog about free to enter writing competitions, or am I better off using the time to write my own fiction?

Wednesday, 4 March 2020


A tradition is an ongoing custom, belief or opinion, often passed on for generations. 

Atristic and literary principles and methods which are based on experience and common practice are also considered traditions. It's traditional for romances to have happy endings.

A traditionalist is someone who has respect for traditions, perhaps to an excessive extent.

Which traditions do you follow and enjoy? A lot of my favourites involve food – I like to pour brandy on the Christmas pudding and set fire to it and try the traditional foods in places I visit, such as Welsh cakes, Cornish pasties and Scottish shortbread.

The first Wednesday of the month is traditionally Insecure Writer's Support Group day and March is no exception. As well as the monthly blog posts, the IWSG offers free support to insecure writers in lots of ways. If you think you might benefit, click on the link to take a look.

This month's optional question is –

Other than the obvious holiday traditions, have you ever included any personal or family traditions/customs in your stories?

I don't think I ever have, although it's possible I've done so not realising a custom isn't as universal as I'd supposed. How about you? 

As I do it in almost every post, and I've been blogging for years, does it count as tradition for me to mention free to enter writing competitions? 

The University of Southampton are offering a range of free competitions with good prizes. They all have a 'green' theme.

This one is for sci-fi, fantasy or horror. Top prize is $1,000.

Here's a free poetry competition.

Friday, 28 February 2020

Just the one

The prize for this free to enter short story competition is $220. You have between 1,000 and 5,000 words to write a story in which, "there is more than one of something that there should absolutely, positively be only one of."

This is allium unifolium, so called because it supposedly only has one leaf. Mine is growing in a big clump, so I can't tell you how accurate that is.

What do you think there should only be one off?

Wednesday, 26 February 2020


For this short story competition from Parsec Ink, you're asked to write a story of up to 3,500 words on the theme of forging. Good word – I can think of several ways to interpet that!

The contest is free to enter and offers a $200 prize. It's only open to non-professional writers. The entry must be sci-fi, fantasy or horror.

Forging can mean creating something strong and enduring – to forge a career, legacy or relationship, for example. The encouragement of my granparents forged my love of gardening. If you forge ahead, you're taking the lead or making good progress.

Forging can be to make an object from metal by heating and shaping it. A forged banknote is a forgery (fake, fraudulent copy) created by a forger.

Monday, 24 February 2020

Win help to get your novel written and published

Me doing a booksigning in Waterstones
This competition from Pen to Print is for potential novelists. The ten finalists will win a year of mentoring and have their completed book published. You have until September to submit a synopsis and the first chapter. First entry is free. If you want to try more than one story idea you can, but it'll cost you £10 a go for the extra ones.

Original cover

In case you're thinking nobody ever wins these sorts of competitions I can assure you they do. I know, because it happened to me! It was quite a while ago now, but I entered a free novel writing competition after blooging about it and Escape To The Country was published as a result. 

Curent cover

Sadly the publishing company ceased trading a few years later, but I was able to self publish the book afterwards and I'm still benefitting from the boost that win gave to my confidence and writing career.