Wednesday, 28 December 2016


A tribulation is a great affliction or oppression, or the cause of that. The occupants of many abbeys suffered tribulations during the reformation ordered by Henry VIII.

It's a good thing I looked it up before using it anywhere as I'd always imagined it meant a minor source of annoyance. Perhaps I was associating it with trivial?

Did you know what the word meant?

Wednesday, 21 December 2016


To rootle is to dig with a snout, to poke about or search. Whilst you're doing it you're rootling and afterwards you'll have rootled.

Somewhere I have a photo of pigs rootling, but when I rootled through my hardrve I got distracted, so here are some steps instead. Do you know where they are? Have you climbed them?

What were you looking for last time you rootled – and did you find it?

Wednesday, 14 December 2016


A launch is a type of motor boat e.g. a pilot launch.

To launch, is to hurl forward, set in motion or make a start. Traditionally when a ship was launched, it would be sent speeding down a ramp into the water. Nowadays they're more usually floated out, a safer and more sedate process, which is still referred to as launching the vessel.

In the case of a book launch, the word means to introduce a new product. My latest book was launched just two weeks ago.

Have you launched anything lately, or perhaps you're planning on launching in the near future?

Wednesday, 30 November 2016


Whee! is an expression of delight. The exclamation mark isn't compulsory, but I feel it's justified.

Whee! is the sort of thing a person might say either because it was the launch day of their first ever co-written non-fiction book, or to show how thrilled they are to have purchased a copy of the rather excellent From Story Idea to Reader. (Wheeeeeeee! is what you squeal when being spun round on a children's roundabout in the park after a celebratory glass of something bubbly. Apparently.)

From Story Idea to Reader is available from Amazon as a paperback (£9.99) or ebook (£3.99). If you'd like it in a different format, such as pdf, you can obtain them direct from the publisher.

For a full list of contents, click here.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016


Estimation is the process or result of making an estimate, an opinion or judgement of worth, or an old term for esteem.

By my estimation it's time for another plug for my books. You'd all go up in my estimation if you bought one ;-) Or read it on Kindle Unlimited, or borrowed it from the library ...

Wednesday, 16 November 2016


The word keep has a variety of meanings.

To keep is to retain or preserve – I keep food fresh by keeping it in the fridge. Or it can mean detain or prevent – Don't let reading this blog keep you from writing. Or to guard or protect – keep yourself safe on the internet by keeping your passwords secret. It's also part of a castle!

There are other uses for the word, but I'm not going to keep on typing as that's kept me away from my stories long enough. Maybe some of you would like to keep on with the definitions or examples?

Monday, 14 November 2016

Daggers drawn?

Daggerville Games run a monthly short story competition. Word counts, themes and prizes vary (typically it's 350 words and a £30 Waterstones voucher). These details are found on their Facebook page. It's a condition of entry that you like' this. Seems to be the only one.

I'm not sure there is a dagger in this collection, but there are enough weapons for a large village.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

It's almost here ...

From Story Idea to Reader will be released on 30th November as a paperback and in a variety of e-formats. The kindle version is available to pre-order now!

From Story Idea to Reader is an easily accessible guide to writing fiction. Whether you are brushing up on your writing skills or starting out, this book will take you through the whole process from inspiration to conclusion. No matter if you are looking to submit your work for publication, enter a competition, or want to self-publish, this practical guide will help you every step of the way.

Between them, Patsy Collins and Rosemary Kind have sold hundreds of short stories, written sixteen published books and produced numerous articles for Writing Magazine and similar publications. They've both judged writing competitions and run workshops, and Rosemary has read and edited thousands of short stories and published dozens of books for other writers.

With the information, help and encouragement in this book, you too could see your work in print.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

No Family Secrets

I have another short story collection out! (No, I don't have anything better to do with my time.) You can buy it here. No pressure at all.

You could also help spread the word by tweeting, sharing on Facebook etc. Only the teensiest bit of pressure there ;-)

Perhaps Aunty Louise hadn't wanted to be told the truth about why her bum looked big in that dress. If so, she asked the wrong person; Tracie's mum never lied. Louise did ask though, that's why she was told. That's why there are questions Tracie keeps to herself.

Sue's mother always tells the truth, but people don't always listen. Jemima tells lies. Well, it's either that or get a job and pay her way and she's not really suited to that sort of thing. She's much better at manipulation, although perhaps not good enough.

Angela hasn't been strictly honest about the painting and Mary's mother-in-law has withheld important information. That causes upset in both their families, until the loving, honest support of their daughters-in-law put everything right.

Can lies ever be a good thing? Perhaps if they're told to preserve family traditions, or to allow a sick child to benefit from the help of a superhero, they're forgivable. The made up stories Jane tells little Charlie certainly have a positive affect and not only on her son.

Families, whether we're born or married into them, or choose them for ourselves all have stories to tell. This collection contains 25 of them.

Do you ever write about members of your family? I don't do that directly, but I do use some relatives as inspiration. Hard no to as they're such an interesting bunch.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016


Tantamount, which is almost always followed by 'to' means equivalent.

Clicking on my blog is tantamount to agreeing to see more of my photos!

Monday, 7 November 2016

Are you a grown up?

If you're 50 or above and would like to submit to an anthology about ageing, take a look here.

I still have my teddy bear and I'm a lot less grey than he is, so I don't think I can be anywhere close to old yet. Don't think I've grown up much since my Granny made him for me either.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Free editing book

My friend Anne Rainbow's jolly excellent editing book is FREE today. Her ten step editing plan is simple, effective and has certainly helped my 'hit' rate.

You can also sign up for her free, informative emails and follow her blog here.

Friday, 4 November 2016

Heavy feathers

The Heavy Feather Review is currently open to submissions.

Other than with copies of the issue you're in and a lifetime digital subscription, they don't pay. I suppose it's better than nothing.

They accept fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction, essays, interviews, reviews, hybrid pieces and artwork.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

What do you enjoy about writing?

 "What is your favourite aspect of being a writer?" That's this month's Insecure Writer's Support Group question – and it's an easy one for me to answer.

It's the writing part! I love how we can write about what we like. It doesn't matter if we want to tell the truth or make everything up, whether we prefer haiku or epic novels, or both, or something else entirely. We can create whole new worlds, or fix this one. 

Being able to change our mind is good too. If, after 30,000 words, we decide to alter our character's name, or sex, or age, or outlook on life, we can do that. If we feel we'd like to attempt scriptwriting, poetry, articles, or short stories then we simply open a new document and start typing away. 

The fact that I have two new books coming out before the end of the year perhaps shows how much I enjoy writing and the variety it offers. No Family Secrets is a collection of 25 short stories and From Story Idea to Reader is a non-fiction book I've co-written with Rosemary J Kind. The writing for both is done so it's time to start on one of the less fun aspects of writing; marketing our work. 

Ah well, I'm doing a cheat's version of Nano – 30 short story drafts in 30 days. That should keep me happy.

What do you most like about writing and what are you currently working on?

Monday, 31 October 2016

Want lots of reviews?

All writers want reviews for their books – please, please leave one for me on Amazon.

Yep, I want them enough to beg – and to offer a book for free.

Today I got an email inviting me to purchase a promotional package which includes "UNIQUE and HONEST book reviews". If I go for his "BESTSELLER SO FAR" he will "post as many honest reviews as you want."

Well honesty is good, right? I have heard that the truth can hurt, but that's something I don't have to worry about with this offer as "I don't post negative reviews."

The sender of the email clearly thinks I'm the kind of person who might take part in such a scam. I am angered and insulted by this. So much so that I've come over slightly Liam Neeson. OK, I won't be hunting down and killing anyone, but I am forwarding the email to Amazon and others who I think might take action.

In case anyone is in any doubt, there is absolutely nothing honest about a review which will be positive regardless of the reader's true opinion and/or which the author has paid for. That applies even when the review is part of a package including  other services you would expect to pay for and any assurances such as "NOTE: You are NOT paying me for the review but for the amount of time I am investing in reading your book," are worthless.

Please don't fall for scams like this. It's not 'just' that it's unethical. You're very likely to be caught out. The reviews will be pulled. Your seller account may well be closed too. Publishers won't want to deal with you. Readers won't trust you. I'll be cross.

So, please, please leave me a review on Amazon – but only a genuine one and be aware that all you'll get in return is my gratitude. You'll get buckets of that.

UPDATE 31/1//16 - I've had a reply form Amazon and at their request have passed on all the information I have so that this can be investigated.

If anyone gets anything similar, it might help the investigation to forward it to

UPDATE 1/11/16 - Goodreads are also actively investigating this.

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Fancy a quickie?

You'll need to write fast to enter this competition as it closes tomorrow – but as you only need 50 words, it's not impossible.

There's a photo prompt on the site. Can anyone tell me the subject? At first I thought it was Whitby Abbey, but after looking at photos we took there this summer, I'm not so sure.

Friday, 28 October 2016

Sounds Good

Soundworks are running another free to enter competition. Entries, including previously published work, are accepted from anywhere in the world. The prize is to have the story recorded and put up on the site, along with author details.

I entered one of their previous competitions and although I didn't win, the organiser liked my story Uncle Mick so much he offered to create a recording of it. It's still there for you to listen to if you'd like.

One of my favourite things to listen to is the sea. I don't mind whether it's crashing onto rocks or lapping gently at the beach. What are your favourite sounds?

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Quick reminder

If you planned to enter the Commonwealth short story competition and haven't done it yet, then there's just enough time left. There's £2,500 on offer for eacg regional winner and £5,000 for the overall winner.

You do need to be a citizen of a commonwealth country to enter – just like this 'Old Man'.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016


Staffage is the visual arts equivalent of minor characters in a novel. They're animals or people in the background. Part of the scene, but not the subject.

As I can't draw, I'm attempting to illustrate this through photos of a crow. In one he's the central character, the subject - in the other he's really just staffage. See what I mean?

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Novel writing competition

Here's a competition to win a 'publishing offer', from a company I'd not previously heard of, for your novel of up to 40,000 words. Anyone can enter, work already self published can be submitted, and it's free – that's the good news.

The bad news is that it all seems a bit complicated and as though other entrants are doing the judging (but I may have got that wrong – as I said it's slightly complicated). Judging by their website, including an excessive number of exclamation marks and using a few more question marks than you have questions, might be an advantage.

Sorry if I sound cynical. I've run out of cake.

Monday, 24 October 2016

It's all Welsh to me

For this competition you're asked to write  "fiction that is written to be read/played on digital devices." It seems that it's not quite as simple as writing a story and saying it'll work on a Kindle, because they want the piece to be 'born digital'. 

There's a £300 prize for each category (including a Welsh language prize). Anyone may enter work in English or Welsh ... or HTML, Flash, or whatever the heck Twine is. You can attach your work or bung it on a cloud. 

I'm beginning to feel like a Luddite. An old Luddite.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Icelandic writing retreat

How do you fancy a writing retreat in Iceland, which includes workshops with amazing writers, cocktails, tours around the incredible landscapes, great food, accommodation, live music, time to write ...? Yes, me too!

Can you afford it? If not, then you might appreciate the chance to win a full or partial scholarship.

The photo isn't Iceland. You'd probably guessed that.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

A tale of two cities

For this competition (open only to UK residents) you're asked to write a 500 story on the theme of 'making change happen'. There's a £300 first prize, plus discounted theatre tickets will be offered to all entrants.

The photos show part of well known buildings in two different cities. Can you identify them?

Friday, 21 October 2016


Here's another competition for a hallowe'en story. The prize is $50, plus your choice of book.

The deadline is scarily close, so The Sphere has kindly dipped himself in orange paint and wrestled with green and black felt tip pens to help get you in the mood.

Thursday, 20 October 2016


The 3Elements literary review is open to submissions of fiction and poetry which include the elements 'Glaze', 'Thread' and 'Murmur'. They don't pay, but they do say you can tweet about your success, should your work be accepted.

These tiles, at Byland Abbey, are hundreds of years old. 'They have glaze on them,' she murmurs in attempt to weave a thread connecting them to the post.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016


hobbledehoy is a clumsy or awkward youth. I was one of them a loooong time ago, though I don't recall being referred to as such.

Is there a term for a similar adult? If so, that'll be me now.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

A prize in store?

This free entry writing contest offers a £50 book voucher as a prize. They want hallowe'en stories  of between 350 and 3,000 words, which mention self storage in some way. UK residents only.

I do like a competition with a theme or a prompt and I'll have finished reading all the books I already have sometime in the next couple of decades, so I think I'll be giving this one a try.

Update. I contacted the organisers to ask whether it would only be winning stories which they'll share on social media. They've replied to say other stories may be used as well.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Will this do?

This free to enter competition is for haiku. There's a £100 prize and anyone may enter. I might enter, but I'm not good with poetry, so I'd better have a warm up ...

There once was a coo
Who had a wonderful moo
Is this a haiku?

Hmmm maybe I'll stick to limericks.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Starting out

I have an article about getting started as a writer in the current (November) issue of Writing Magazine.

Is there anything you've learned about writing which you wish you'd known when you first started?

Friday, 14 October 2016

The journey

Here's a competition for a short story based on a journey. First prize is £300. Entrants may be of an nationality.

As you may be aware, I went on a journey recently. I took photos – want to see some? *Yes, thought you would.

*Ha! Like you have a choice!

Wednesday, 12 October 2016


Something which is the draggiest is even draggier than anything which is simply draggy. It's that which is the most draggy, in fact. Draggy means tedious or unpleasant.

Which is the draggiest - looking at all my photos, or reading the comments I type in an attempt to justify dragging them in?

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Your first time?

If you're over 40 and your first novel has either not yet been published, or was first published in the UK this year, then I have just the competition for you. It's free to enter and offers a top prize of £4,000.

Rats! I've left it too late. Oh well.

The image is of the first novel I wrote (but not the first to be published). I was actually under 40 when I started it. Seems a long time ago now.