Monday, 30 January 2017

Long and short of love

This competition from Hodder is for short stories about love. By 'short' they mean 5,000 to 10,000 words, but 'love' can be interpreted however you like.

If I come up with a suitable idea in time, I'll give this one a try. I've written much shorter love stories and far longer ones, but so far nothing within that range. It's good to try something different.

The prize is £150 and a two hour consultation with Emma Herdman - Sceptre's Senior editor.

Entry is restricted to UK residents who're over 18.

If you'd rather read about love then you might like this new short story collection.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Oh Zoe!

Here's a competition to write a children's picture book. (Just write it - you don't need to draw anything).

The prize is £500, plus the opportunity to have your book published. Anyone may enter and you can submit more than one entry. I'm definitely having a go at this one.

This is Ock. Do you think he'd make a good character for a children's book?

Friday, 27 January 2017

Get going

This competition from Travelex and Penguin is for a 'travel savvy' short story. The prize is £1,500 plus a session with a Penguin editor.

Hmmm, I'm very keen on travel, writing and competitions, so how come I don't do any travel writing and just use these competitions as an excuse to bore you with my holiday photos?

If that doesn't appeal, you make like this poetry competition which offers a $200 first prize.

As usual, both competitions are free to enter.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017


Despite how it sounds, a portent isn't anything to do with camping under two sticks and a bin liner...

A portent is a sign or omen. Storm clouds may gather portentously on the horizon.

Something which is like, or serves as, a portent is portentous. Anyone coming to this blog for the first time might consider the opening line of this post a portentous warning, especially if they're not fond of really terrible puns.

Another meaning of portentous is pompously solemn. Don't think anyone can accuse me of that.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Animals abound

Erewash Writers are running a free entry short story competition. You're asked to write 500- 600 words involving an animal.

The prize is a book and free entry into their open competition.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Guest post by Wayne Kelly

By day, Wayne is a video producer, editor and script writer. When he’s not doing that, he hits the page – novels, short stories, songs and anything else that puts juice in his creative batteries. He co-hosts The Joined Up Writing Podcast and blogs at He loves to connect with other creatives on Twitter, where you’ll find him @MrKelly2u


Listen up! How Podcasts Can Help Writers and Creatives.

I’m passionate about podcasts and the positive impact they’ve had on my writing and creativity. Patsy has kindly given me the opportunity to share some of that passion with her readers and to introduce you to some of the amazing content that could entertain and inspire you and your work.

Quick intro – What Are Podcasts?

Podcasts are episodic, usually themed, audio content that you can listen to on the web or subscribe to using iTunes or on your smartphone. They’re almost always free and come in a variety of flavours from Audio Drama, How-To Shows and Lifestyle, to Science, Comedy, True Crime and of course . . . Writing.

Anyone who knows me, reads my blog or follows me on Twitter will probably have noticed my podcast obsession. I actually co-host one with Leah Osbourne – The Joined-Up Writing Podcast, where we interview successful authors, editors, agents, screenwriters and anyone connected with reading or writing good books. We were even lucky enough to interview Patsy about her recent book, From Story Idea to Reader. You can find that episode here.

Making connections and getting involved

Our show is called The Joined-Up Writing Podcast because we want to ‘join up’ and connect with other like-minded creatives. Too often, Social Media forgets to be social – we’ve all been deluged with constant ‘BUY MY BOOK’ tweets or Facebook posts. Podcasts provide a forum for real conversation, and it’s a conversation that you can be a part of. Have a burning question for your favourite author? Want to suggest a topic or a guest for a future show? Maybe you want to be a guest yourself? Podcasters love their listeners to get involved and, thanks to technology and the flexibility of the format, it doesn’t matter where you live. Our most recent guest was a playwright based in New York, but Skype allowed us to connect for his interview.

No niche too small!

Mainstream TV and radio must always cater for the masses but Podcasting embraces the niche, which is great if you want quality content on just about any facet of Writing. There are shows on the mechanics of narrative and storytelling, like The Story Grid. Joanna Penn has The Creative Penn, packed full of information for Indie authors. The Narrative Breakdown looks at screenwriting. The Worried Writer has long-form interviews with writers, often focusing on dealing with self-doubt. If you want some quick and dirty writing tips then Writing Excuses is a good one to try, as each show is only 15 minutes long.

The point is, there’s a wealth of free hints and tips out there, just waiting to find your ears.

Be inspired . . .

It isn’t all about Writing podcasts. We all know that inspiration can come from anywhere and there are loads of top quality shows to get your creative juices bubbling. Perhaps you’re a crime writer and looking for inspiration? Try some True Crime like Serial, Crimetown or Stranglers. For real people telling real stories, have a listen to The Moth. Homecoming is a suspenseful audio drama that stars Friends’ David Schwimmer.

New shows are appearing every day, and because they’re audio, podcasts are great for multi-tasking. I download my favourites on to my phone and listen whilst walking or driving, so there’s no excuse not to give them a try.

Already listening to podcasts? I’m always hungry for my next listening binge so feel free to pop your own recommendations into the comments below or get in touch with me through the blog or twitter.

Friday, 20 January 2017

Laughter lines

Wergle Flomp is an annual competition for humorous poetry. The top prize is $1,000 with eleven further cash prizes.

People have said my poetry is a bit funny. I'm not sure they meant it in an award winning kind of way, so I'll probably give this one a miss.

Here's a flower - because flowers are nature's poetry and to me this one looks as though it's giggling. (No, I haven't been on the Absinthe.)

Thursday, 19 January 2017

It's the future

Here's another free to enter short story competition for sci-fi writers. The prize includes paid publication, a trophy, books, membership of the National Space Society and some other stuff.

You're asked to set the story no more than 60 years in the future. By then, Stonehenge will probably look like this...

That might well be my worst link between photo and post. Well, worst so far. Who knows what the future holds?

Wednesday, 18 January 2017


To swish something (a rejection slip perhaps) is to move it through the air, so that it makes a sound. Helpfully my dictionary describes the noise produced as 'a swishing sound'.

You can also swish things away - horses swish tails to dissaude flies from bothering them, scythes can swish the long grass into neat rows of drying hay.

Swish is also another term for something that's a bit posh or smart.

The rate my hair's growing, I'll soon be able swish it in my swish mobile writing retreat.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017


If you've written a play, you might be interested in this competition to have your work performed at the Arundel festival. The best piece will win £250 and the other successful authors will get £100 each.

Annoyingly, although I've been to Arundel and I've been to plays, I don't have photos of either to illustrate this post. Luckily the plays are to be performed by the Drip Action Theatre Company and I have plenty of shots involving rain.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Greek retreat

Do you fancy winning a week's all inclusive writing retreat in Greece? (That must come close to being a rhetorical question.) If so, just enter a short story into this competition. You have up to 3,000 words and may write on any theme*.

Those who don't fancy a writing retreat can still enter as there's an alternative prize of five online sessions of personal tutoring.

*If you're struggling to come up with an idea, try the section on generating ideas in this marvellous book.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Sunny Salcombe

There are two events for writers coming up in Salcombe, Devon. At the first participants will be talking about me (well, they’ll be discussing one of my early stories) and at the second they get to talk to me and Anne Rainbow. If you’re local to the area, or want to treat yourself to a weekend away, we’d love to see you there.
Left Bank Writers workshop
Saturday 11 February: 10am-3pm, with a short break for lunch, at Harbour House, Kingsbridge
anneThe Left Bank Writers group welcome Anne Rainbow, playwright, author and inventor of RedPen Editing, to explain her 10 steps to successful self-editing using, as an example, a short story written by novelist Patsy Collins.
Anne’s Kindle book Editing the Red Pen Way is available from Amazon.
Cost: £12 to Left Bank Members; others £17. Some concessions are available. Contact Michael Elsmere to book your
Meet the authors: Anne Rainbow and Patsy Collins
Sunday 12 February: 4-6pm at the Cottage Hotel, Hope Cove
Anne Rainbow has published 100s of text books, written several plays and short stories, and majors on mentoring other writers in the art of self-editing using her RedPen method. Her Editing the Red Pen Way is available from Amazon.
Patsy Collins has 500+ short stories in a range of UK, Irish, South African, Canadian, Swedish and Featured Image -- 908Australian publications. Patsy also writes novels and is the expert on the womag market. Patsy Collins’ latest book From Story Idea to Reader is available from Amazon.
Annfinal-cover-small-front-251016e and Patsy will be having afternoon tea at the Cottage Hotel on Sunday 12 February and invite all local writers to join them between 4pm and 6pm to discuss writing, editing, self-publishing and marketing.
Book your cream tea (£5.95) direct with the Cottage Hotel on 01548 561555 to enjoy two hours in conversation with Anne and Patsy.
 My books will be on sale on the Sunday - no high pressure sales pitch though, I promise.

Friday, 13 January 2017

Alternative Publishing

This competition from Alternative Publishing Services offers a $200 prize, publication in an anthology and two copies. All other entries selected for publication will also win a small cash prize and two copies.

For once I'm completely unable to think of something even tenously related to this post to use as an illustration, so here are some sweet peas.

Can you think of an image which would have been more suitable?

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Wish I'd known...

For this competition from Birds of a Feather Press, you're asked to write 500 - 2,000 words on what you wished you'd known about a holiday destination, before you arrived. There's a $200 first prize, as well as ten runner up prizes.

I wish I'd known how big Arbroath smokies are before I ordered one, as I'd have made sure I was REALLY hungry. Fortunately Gary helped me eat it, so none went to waste.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017


To be magnanimous is to be nobly generous rather than petty in feelings or actions. Hmmm, I do try to behave with magnanimity, but sometimes I get annoyed and fail to react magnanimously.

Do you like this word? It's a bit of a tongue mangler, isn't it? Decidedly tricky to illustrate too.

Umm... Aha! If someone who'd annoyed me fell into the sea I'd probably be magnanimous enough to throw them a life bouy – if I didn't have to go far to find one and I wasn't busy or anything.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Write boldly

The James White Award is an annual science fiction competition. For a short story of between 1,000 and 6,000 words, they're offering £200 plus publication. This competition is only open to non professional authors, but this is defined in an unusual* way, so check the rules before entering.

*Despite being a full time writer, I'm eligible (if you discount the fact that I don't actually write sci-fi that is).

They're taking a broad definition of what science fiction means. What does it mean to you?

Monday, 9 January 2017

Make room

On The Premises are runnimg a short story competition with the theme of 'Space'. That can be interpreted however you like.

They want unpublished work only and just one piece per person, otherwise there are no entry restrictions. Top prize is $220.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Pet project

Thanks to Anne Rainbow for sharing the information about this publication opportunity.

SmokingPen Press are looking for short stories about pets to go into an anthology. There's a flat fee of $25 – and they'll accept previously published work.

Because we travel so much, garden birds are the closest we come to having pets. This one is called Gully. So is every other pigeon which looks vaguely similar.

Do you have any creatures you think of as yours, whether you own them or not?

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Win a book deal

If you'd like to win a publishing deal and $1,000 cash, take a look at this competition. This competition is only open to those who've not previously had a novel published or 'released to the public'.

That means I can't enter. I would if I could.

Updated - Sorry, I've only just realised that this competition is only available to people currently living in Ireland.

It's tempting to think that nobody ever wins these things, but I know it's possible. A few years ago I entered, and won, a novel writing competition. Sadly the company has since ceased trading, but the
book is still available.

Friday, 6 January 2017

The year ahead

If you can write a fictionalised version about something you'd like to do in 2017, you could enter this competition and be in with a chance of winning a Samsung tablet or a gift voucher.

As an example, my real plans involve lots of travel and meeting up with writing friends. For the competition, I could therefore write about travelling to the moon and having dinner with Shakespeare.

Do you have any real, or fictitious plans you'd like to share?

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

I'm not ready!

It's the first Wednesday of the month, so time for an Insecure Writer's Support Group post. But I'm not ready to feel insecure yet.

So many things could go right in the next twelve months – I might win a competition with a story I've not written yet (I'll be posting up links to lots of free ones over the next few weeks). Maybe I'll finish the novel I started a loooong time ago and it'll be a marvellous success. Perhaps I'll sell lots more of my short stories.

The year has got off to a good start with three more five star reviews of my writing book and I'm so full of enthusiasm for my writing projects the biggest difficulty is in knowing which to concentrate on first.

I hope you're feeling just as optimistic about the year ahead, but if you're not try to remember a year is a long time. Lots and lots of things will happen, so the chances of some of them being good are pretty high.

btw, Tonight's #writingchat topic is motivation. Do join us on twitter from 8-9 if you'd like to chat to myself and other writers. Don't forget the hashtag!

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Happy New Year!

With regard to writing (and several other things) 2016 was a pretty good year for me. I've continued to sell to magazines and released two short story collections – Through The Garden Gate and No Family Secrets. My biggest achievement was co- writing From Story Idea to Reader, which was published just over a month ago.

I have lots of plans for 2017. To help with the writing ones I have a lovely new task notebook. I've been keeping one of these for a while now. In it, I write down all the small steps which, when accomplished, result in stories, articles and even whole books being written and published.

Whatever your goals and plans for 2017, and whatever method you adopt to help you achieve them, I wish you a very Happy New Year.