Saturday, 31 December 2016

Food for thought

For this competition you're invited to submit a piece of specualative fiction* which explores one or more philosophical ideas.

You have 1,000 to 7,500 words and until the 1st February to do that. So far I'm in, but then it gets tricky. They also want a 'Food for Thought' section, explaining the philosophical ideas behind the story. Helpfully there are a couple of examples to refer to.

There's a prize of $500, publication in Sci Phi Journal, and although they don't mention this, I imagine there will also be buckets of kudos.

*"this includes, but is not limited to, science fiction, fantasy, horror, alternative history, or magical realism".

Fancy a cheese straw to help give you the strength to tackle this one?

Friday, 30 December 2016

Small but perfectly formed

Thanks to Beatrice Charles for telling me about this flash fiction competition. Anyone over 16 may enter, the requirement is for between 180 and 360 words and the top prize is £100.

My reflex, whenever I see '360' is to think of the panoramic photos my husband takes - like this one of Harlech Castle (wiggle it to get the full effect).

Thursday, 29 December 2016

A legend?

There's no requirement to be either legendary or a woman to enter this free short competition from Legendary Women. The first prize is $100.

One of my plans for 2017 is to enter more competitions, so I'll probably give thisone a try.

This castle has been the home of more than one legendary woman - can you name any of them?

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?

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Merry Christmas

Happy Christmas, and a joyful anything else you care to celebrate around this time of year, to all my blog readers.

Friday, 23 December 2016

Twelth Planet

If you're a sci-fi fan, you might find this request for letter to Olivia Estelle Butler, of interest. This is a paying publication opportunity.

Have you read anything by this author?

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Big fat zero

Zeroflash run a monthly flash fiction competition. There's a different prompt each time and the best story will be illustrated and the author awarded £10.

Thanks to Alyson Faye for letting me know about this one and giving me a chance to post a picture of my zero shaped muse.

The Sphere has challenged me to a snowball fight. He said I can bring my friends as he'll be bringing his. Who's with me?

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?

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Guest post by Alex Gazzola

Today my guest is Alex Gazzola.

A writing competition offers motivation and potential opportunity for writers, both aspiring and established alike. A break from your ‘normal’ work. The discipline of writing to order, and to deadline.

If you don’t win, you’ll have only parted with a modest entry fee at most (although many don’t charge), and you’ll still be able to use the material you created elsewhere.

At least – you would hope to be able to use the material elsewhere …

Depressingly, it’s not always the case these days. Increasingly, competition organisers are introducing what I term ‘rights grabby’ terms and conditions, specifying that entrants assign copyright in entries as a condition of participation. Not just winning entries, you understand – which is questionable enough – but usually non-winning too. I have even seen one specifying all rights (which is effectively copyright) in work which did not meet the entry criteria – in other words, disqualified entries.

If you’re as appalled about all this as I am, you can fight back.

First, read terms and conditions – and don’t enter any which make unreasonable demands.

Sometimes a grab is straightforwardly put, as in this Vogue Contest, which says plainly: “Copyright of entries belongs to the Condé Nast Publications Ltd [Vogue’s publisher]”

Sometimes it’s more wordy. A recent Irish Times travel writing competition specified that “The entrant assigns intellectual property rights in his or her submission to the promoter and waives all moral rights” – just one among many grim demands.

Occasionally, no mention of copyright is made, or else there’s an ostentatious declaration that you retain it … and then you’ll spot a sneakier clause reserving all manner of rights, which may allow the organiser to profit from your work, and possibly prevent you doing much with it in future.

For instance, this Rough Guides Travel Writing Competition says that “… each entrant grants to the Promoter a perpetual, royalty-free, non-exclusive licence to edit, publish, translate, modify, adapt, make available and distribute the entry throughout the world” – in other words, they can exploit your work for ever, anywhere, and pay you nothing. And if you object? “If you do not want to grant us these rights, please do not submit materials to us.” The charmers.

To fight back, politely challenge them – by email or via social media – and ask them to reconsider. It may not get you far, but you’ll have added another voice of dissent.
Warn your followers, friends and online colleagues. Report organisers to any relevant writers’ bodies. For instance, I grassed up the Irish Times to the British Guild of Travel Writers. I was ignored, but the more voices object, the more we’ll be noticed.

One group which doesn’t ignore me is the Artists’ Bill of Rights, a volunteer campaign group defending rights on behalf of creatives.

The AboR regularly dismantle unacceptable terms (usually in photography competitions, often riddled with obnoxious clauses). You can learn a lot from their demolition of the Irish Times travel writing competition’s T&Cs here, for example. Their website outlines the many ways you can support them – but at least give them a follow on Twitter (@ArtistsRights) or like on Facebook.

What else? Publicise, champion and enter those competitions which request only fair usage of winning work – and whose organisers split any secondary revenues with the writer.

Finally: explain the value of copyright to new writers who look to you for advice, and how it sustains the creative industries. We must defend it. It is not an option.

Alex Gazzola is a journalist and author specialising in food allergy and intolerance – and in writing advice. His ebook, 50 Mistakes Beginner Writers Make, is out now. A follow-up – imaginatively titled 50 More Mistakes Beginner Writers Make – is released early in 2017. His blog is at

Friday, 16 December 2016

Ongoing competitions

I thought some of you might appreciate a reminder of a few regular free to enter writing competitions.

This travel writing competition for The Telegraph is weekly and has a £200 prize. The best entry of the year wins £1000.

Daggerville Games have a monthly flash fiction competition with a $50 prize.

Writing Magazine has free entry subscriber only short fiction competition with £100 for the winner. There are also free entry poetry competitions throughout the year.

Writers' Forum also have a free competition each month, for subscribers only which offers £100. Theirs is for flash fiction.

The quarterly L. Ron. Hubbard competition for science fiction writing has a $1,000 top prize and an additional annual prize of $5,000.

The Reader's Digest annual 100 word story competition has a £2,000 top prize.

W&AYB has an annual short story competition with the prize of an Arvon course (worth £1,000) as the prize.

The list is getting long and it feels appropriate to continue it in another post, so I shall.

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?

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

I'm ready!

It's Solent Writers' Circle Christmas party tonight and for once I'm properly prepared. Every year the winner of our annual humour competition is announced and the entries read out. We each bring something nice to eat - which includes home made shortbread from our chairperson.

Everyone brings a book or two. These are usually ones we've previously read and enjoyed ourselves. They're wrapped in recycled paper and heaped up for us to help ourselves.

I've bought the junk food, wrapped the books, written the cards, cadged a lift and checked I have the right day!

Monday, 12 December 2016

Get dramatic

Thanks to Lynne Pardoe for alerting me about this opportunity to submit an unsolicited script to the BBC

They're looking for '1 drama script of at least 30 minutes / pages in length for TV, Film, Radio, Stage or Online.'

Would you like to see/hear your work performed on the BBC?

Sunday, 11 December 2016

A bonny wee freebie - or two

Rosemary Gemmell's short story collection Beneath the Treetops is available to download for FREE today. (US link)

Rosemary lives in Scotland and writes lovely books set there. She informs me (via her newsletter were you can enter a competition ti win your own mini beastie, plus a copy of her latest book) that the correct way to pronounce the name of the creature featured is 'hielen coo'.

I was saying it wrong the whole time I was there – I'm going to have to go back and put that right, aren't I?

Saturday, 10 December 2016

'nother nifty fifty

There seem to be a lot of 50 word competitions about at the moment. Thanks to Alyson Rhodes for telling me about this one. The best stories submitted each month will be published on the site and the best of those wins $10 Canadian.

I'm jolly pleased with my photo choice for this post! What do you think – too cryptic? Flippin' obvious?

(You did work out yesterday's didn't you?)

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Free copy - From Story Idea to Reader

There's a Goodreads giveaway running for From Story Idea to Reader. (UK only). If, whilst you're on the site you could mark the book as 'want to read' that would help us a little with visibility.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Making plans

"In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself five years from now, and what’s your plan to get there?" That's this month's Insecure Writer's Support Group question.

I'm going to answer by going back in time to when I first learned I might be offered a redundancy package from my last job. At the time I thought very carefully about the future and decided I wanted to write full-time. 

I felt that with more writing time I probably could sell more stories to magazines, but knew that alone wouldn't be enough. I'd need to sell articles and books too. Again I was confident about the writing part, but less sure I'd find buyers. I took the risk.

Back then I'd had one novel and around 200 stories published, plus won a few competitions, in the ten years I'd been writing. That was four years ago. 

Now my story sales are more than double that, I've sold numerous articles on writing, won or been placed in competitions and published three more novels, four story collections and co-authored a book on writing. I am a full-time writer.

Mostly I'm telling you all this to brag and hopefully convince you to buy the book. But partly it's to prove that if we know what we hope to achieve, work out how we might get there and then work hard to make it a reality, there is the possibility of success.

Back to the original question - "In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself five years from now, and what’s your plan to get there?"

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

To a friend

The Keats-Shelley Prize offers a share of £4,000 for the winning poems on the theme of 'to a Friend'.

I was tempted to illustrate this post with photos of some of my writing friends, but I didn't want to leave anyone out. Instead, here I am raising a glass to all of you.

Monday, 5 December 2016

Writing for free?

Recently I've had a few queries on this subject and I know opinions vary. I've changed my own mind more than once. Please share you current feelings about any of the following –

Is it a good idea for newer writers to build up confidence and credits by submitting to non paying markets? And if so, at what point should they move on to paying markets?

Is giving away a free ebook (like this one) a sensible way to attract readers for your other books?

Are writers who work for free doing a diservice to those who hope to get paid?

Are you in favour of anthologies published to raise money for charities?

Do you think any non financial rewards for publication are worth having?

What about token payments? Are they fine as it's the principle which matters, or do you find them insulting?

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Easy to swallow

Unless you live outside the UK, Channel Islands or Ireland, I don't want to hear any excuses for not entering this competition from Reader's Digest.

You have until 20th February to write 100 words and the prize is £2,000.

You're allowed to enter more than once, but I'm not insisting you do.

ps If you're interested in how I came to co-author a book about writing, take a look at this interview.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

The same difference

The W&AYB annual short story competition again offers an Arvon course as the prize. Unusually there's no theme this year.

Do you prefer competitions with or without a theme?

I like themes as they encourage me to write something new, rather than dust off something which has been hanging around gathering rejection slips.

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.

Monday, 28 November 2016

I'm rooting for you.

Thanks to Tracy Fells for bringing this free to enter, weekly flash fiction competition to my attention.

There's a new prompt each week and the winners of the best 150 word story get free entry into the Bath Flash Fiction competition, which offers a £1,000 prize.

Sunday, 27 November 2016


The current competition from Words Mag, has the theme of 'murder'. You have until the end of the year to submit your entry which can be up to 2,000 words long. First prize is £50.

I don't know for sure that anyone has ever been murdered in this castle, but it's possible. What do you think?

Friday, 25 November 2016

A bright flash

Brilliant Flash Fiction have a quarterly competition which is free to enter and offers a cash prize. The theme for the current one, which closes on the 15th of January, is 'Aftermath'. The top prize is €50 and the word limit 500.

You may also submit stories of up to 1,000 words, but no payment is offered for those.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Mini masterpiece

Here's another 50 word competition. The prize is a collection of books.

Last time I blogged about one of these teensy story competitions my entry was commended, so I really should have a go at this one.

The books illustrated aren't part of the prize, but it took me so long to create that image that I'm going to use it everywhere I can. If you like the look of any of them, you can buy them 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 ...

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Feeling adventurous?

If you've published an adventure novel, you could enter it in this competition from the Wilbur and Niso Smith Foundation, for a change to win £10,000. If you've written one but it hasn't been published you can enter that too and possibly win the help which will see it published.

I climbed up a jolly big hill. That's about as adventurous as I usually get.

Entries accepted from all nationalities.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

The Creative Café Project and CaféLit

The following post is by my guest, Gill James.

The idea for the Creative Café Project was based partly on the old coffee houses in Vienna, where almost in rent-a-table fashion musicians, and other creative practitioners would meet and debate for hours enjoying excellent coffee, and on De Gaulle’s and André Gide’s maisons de la culture. It’s all about providing creative spaces for creative people.

Nexus Art Café, Manchester

A book event at a creative café 

The Creative Café Project

The Project lists cafés worldwide that meet Creative Café criteria, offers advice to cafés about how to become more “creative”, suggests activities that creative practitioners might take on with cafés, and reviews cafés. Visitors can search for cafés on place names, post codes and by activity.

Read more here.

What a creative café looks like

A creative café may simply have free newspapers for customers to read or, more and more frequently these days, it might offer free Wi-Fi. It might hold book events and / or display art work for sale. The more proactive creative cafés have full lists of events. Do take a look at the list of activities offered.
The project has brought along two new concepts: the literary salon and the writer in residence. Both of these activities are very rewarding for writers.

Salford Museum’s café is a typical creative café

We’re always on the lookout for more cafés, reviews of cafés and creative practitioners willing to work with cafés. We’re also running a series on writers in cafés. If you’d like to get involved in any way, please use the contact form on the site.


CaféLit supports the project by raising awareness, producing short stories that can be consumed as one enjoys a drink in a café and through the small profit made on the annual publication of The Best of CaféLit.
Each story has a drink associated with it. This gives the mood of the story. Take a look at a few here. Stories are anything between 100 words and 3,000 words. You are welcome to submit. See our guidelines.
At the end of each year we select a few of the stories to appear in our Best of volume. We pay the editor and the publicist 7.5% of the profit each and the rest is shared 50 / 50 with the project. We don’t make a huge profit but it does pay for a few flyers. Authors often donate their royalties to the project. They are also offered a 25% discount for life on all CaféLit publications. The project itself gets a little funding from elsewhere.
Our annual get-together in London is fun. Here are details of this year on 3 December. Alas, full now.

Coming soon

From 2017, CaféLit writers will be able to receive a discount on all Chapeltown, Red Telephone and Bridge House books as well as CaféLit.
All CaféLit contributors, whether just online or in The Best of, will be offered an author page on our web site.
A second celebration of all the imprints will be offered in Manchester in the summer.
Watch this space. Why not sign up for our newsletter?

Saturday, 19 November 2016

No vultures here

Cultured Vultures are open to submissions. In theory you may get paid, but that's subject to your piece being read by a lot of people and they make it clear they can't guarantee that will happen. 

On the plus side, you can write about a whole range of topics or send poetry, fiction or reviews and if you don't make any money they'll work with you to "to help build your social profile, show you how to write captivating content, and many other essential aspects of being a writer in the modern world," which sounds jolly useful.

We don't have vultures, cultured or not, around our way so here's a quizical swan and family – plus a bonus duck.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Fine festive fun

Amazon are running a Christmas story competition. The prize package includes publication, £2,000 of Amazon vouchers and a Fire tablet.

There's not long left before the entries close, so get typing NOW!

(UK residents only)

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Do as I say

Unless you're very new to this blog, you'll have read my encouragement to enter writing competitions. I do think it's a good idea, especially when they're free to enter as most of those I blog about are. That doesn't mean I always get around to taking part myself. This summer I hardly entered any.

To be fair to myself I was busy writing a non-fiction book and putting together a short story collection. Oh and touring in the van for three months... Even so, I decided to put things right and fire off a few stories.

Although I haven't won anything (yet) I'm pleased I bothered. I've had a couple of mentions, including one in Writer's Forum and I have some new stories which I might be able to place elsewhere.

What about you? Have you entered any competitions? Do you have any good news to share?

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?

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Book trailers

I have a short story in Bridge House publishing's latest anthology, Baubles.

As part of the publicity for the collection, the publishers have created this trailer.

Do you like book trailers?

Do they encourage you to buy the book?

Have you ever made, or had made, a trailer for your own book?

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.