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.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Alfie Dog open to submissions.

Alfie Dog Fiction are currently open to short story submissions - but not for long. (They publish books too, but aren't accepting these at the moment.)

They will consider previously published stories provided the author has retained the right to offer them. Please don't send more than four. Payment is made quarterly on a royalty basis.

As with any reputable publisher, they don't simply accept everything they're sent, so be prepared for the possibility of either rejection, or a request to rewrite your work.

You can read some FREE examples of their published stories here.

The dog in the picture isn't Alfie, but Wilma - one of his friends. Alfie is the same breed and just as cute in his own way.

Friday, 7 October 2016

The write idea.

This competition is for those who've not previously had anything published. You're asked to write a story of up to 3,000 words. The prize is £300. Entrants must be over 16 and UK residents.

There's no theme, which gives me an excellent opportunity to post more of my trvavel photos for you to use as writing prompts.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Are you ready?

I'm back from my travels. There was some post waiting ..

Once I've dealt with that, I'll be sorting through my photos and sharing *a few*. Are you ready for that?

"When do you know your story is ready?" is this month's Insecure Writer's Support Group question.

I think this is something which becomes instinctive over time. At least that seems to have been the case for me. 

When I first started writing, what I thought were finished stories were really just tidied up first drafts. I got lucky with a few, but soon realised that putting in a bit more effort would improve my chances. For a while that meant I rewrote stories over and over trying to get them perfect. That's OK in theory, but there's always something else which can be changed. I've gradually learned to spot when I'm just making changes and not actually improving the story.

The key is to make the particular piece of writing the best YOU can at that time. Maybe others would write it differently, perhaps even better, but if you've done your best, it's time to stop tweaking and send it on its way.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016


A few days ago I got to meet two people who I chat to nearly every week, but had never before seen in person. 

Carol Bevitt is the tallest, that's Maria Smith in the middle and I'm the windswept one on the end. 

Appropriately enough we chatted for hours (and some of us may have had a tiny nibble of cake).

We've been online writing friends for years and together the three of us host #writingchat. This is a weekly twitter event. To join in, just tweet on Wednesday evenings between 8 - 9pm UK time, using the hashtag #writingchat so we can find you and reply (it's typed just like that - no gaps or capital letters) There's a different topic each week. Maria and Carol were very organised and produced a diary and notebook so we could decide on a schedule for the rest of the year. 

Hope you can join us for some of the forthcoming chats.


5th Last Quarter Goals 

12th Legalities of Writing

19th Getting Started 

26th Undue Influences 


2nd Messy Middles 

9th Networking

16th First Lines 

23rd Gifts for Writers

30th Deadlines


7th Writing Competitions

14th Dream Writing Group

21st Spending the Advance 

28th Plans for 2017

January 2017

4th Local Inspiration 

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Almost home ...

On the penultimate day of our epic adventure we stopped off to visit Rosemary J Kind - and of course her lovely dogs and her husband (who is also nice, but in a different way from the Entlebuchers). We asked Gary to get our good side...

I've known Rosemary virtually for years and we have met in person before. However this was the first time we've met up since we decided to co-write From Story Idea to Reader, which is now at the proofreading stage!

This seemed a good opportunity to get photos of us together, to use when publicising the book. You can see that we took this very seriously.  I blame Wilma for all the 'out takes' (including the ones with my eyes shut and where Rosemary and I were chatting instead of paying attention to our excellent, if cheeky, photographer).