Wednesday, 29 March 2017


Abiogenesis is the formation of living organisms from non-living substances. It sounds an unlikely thing to happen, but unless it was created from nothing at all, then this must be how life started on Earth. Unless it was brought here by aliens, in which case abiogenesis must have occurred on whichever planet they came from.

Oh, and the spontaneous generation of living forms is also called abiogenesis. Gosh, who'd have thought that explaining the creation of life would be complicated?

Here's a fluffy, baby living organism. If you don't know how babies are created, ask strangers on the bus. You'll be sure to get a seat to yourself.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Look sharp

This competition asks you to write something creative using one or more visual prompts. It can be poetry, fiction, non-fiction or smething experimental.

Whichever you choose, you'll need to write it promptly, as the competition closes at the end of the month. There's no entry fee and a cash prize of $25.

If you don't fancy the competition, maybe you'd like to use this photo to write something else?

Friday, 24 March 2017

Comedy Gold?

Theatre Cloud are looking for funny writing of up to 500 words. There are cash prizes including £300 for the winner. Authors retain the rights to their stories, but these are published on the site at the time of entry, so you won't be able to offer first rights anywhere else.

You have until 7th May to enter, but if you do so by 1st April, you'll qualify for discount thetre tickets as well as having a shot at the prize.

I told this chap a cheesy joke about how he could hide himself with marscapone. As you can see, he's laughing himself horse.

Hmm. Maybe I won't enter this one.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017


I knew that engross meant to fully occupy, as in 'she was so completely engrossed in the Paint Me A Picture that she missed her stop and was late for work*'. What I hadn't realised was that there are two other definitions.

Engross can mean to make a 'fair copy' of a legal document or to reproduce something in a larger format.

Have you ever been involved in any kind of engrossment? Please tell me if you have, as I'm sure I'll find the details engrossing.

*I'm told this actually happened to someone. She's since bought other of my books, so I think I'm forgiven.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Lucky seven?

Thanks to Fay Knowles for passing on this link, to seven free to enter writing competitions. There are some great prizes on offer.

Here's a photo of a Welsh castle, because we had to cross the river Severn to get there ;-)

Do you have a lucky number? Ever have the urge to throw something at your computer while reading one of my blog posts?

Friday, 17 March 2017

Dash off a flash

Here's another flash competition which gives me the excuse to post one of my travel photos (I took this from the bridge of a ship on the Irish Sea).

The theme is 'journeys' you have up to 513 words and until the end of the month to write your story. Amazon vouchers are on offer for the best three entries.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017


If something (or I suppose someone) is lactiferous, then they're producing milk, or a milk like fluid. That makes sense as 'lacto' refers to milk and 'ferous' implies having or forming.

Euphorbias can probably be described as lactiferous as the sap of these plants looks very like milk. Don't go drinking it though, as it's a strong irritant.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Did you hear that?

Pin Drop Studio are running a free to enter writing competition. You have almost six weeks and can use up to 4,000 words.

The prize is to have your story narrated by 'a secial guest'. This is likely to be someone a lot of people will have heard of.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Fenland Freebie

Thanks to Alyson for letting me know about this competition from Ely Arts Festival. They're looking for 500 words inspired by 'The Fens'. It's free to enter and there's a cash prize.

The winner will be announced on 1st July at the Ely Writer's Day. That event is free and they suggest booking early if you'd like to attend.

I've not been to the fens (which is why I've used a photo of a completely different piece of wetland) - do you think I should visit?

Wednesday, 8 March 2017


To de-aerate something means to remove the air from it. If I did that to The Sphere, I'd have a plastic pancake.

But of course I never would.

Monday, 6 March 2017

Taking a risk

I may have mentioned this adventure novel competition before, but as there's £16,000 in the prize pot and both published and unpublished novels can be entered and entrants can be of any nationality, I reckon it's better to risk repeating myself than miss it out.

Do you have any adventurous plans for the coming year?

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Annual event?

Harpers Bazaar are running a short story competition. You have up to 3,000 words and nearly two months to write something with the theme of 'The Anniversary'.

The prize is publication in the magazine, plus a weekend in a luxury hotel. The winner will be notified in early July, which means if I won I'd probably have time to book the hotel for our wedding anniversary.

That'd make a change from spending it in the van as we usually do. Pity me if I don't win, having to rough it in some desolate location with almost nothing to eat, hardly any wine, the merest hint of cake and chocolate...

Ah well, I expect I'll cope.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Long distance

Brilliant Flash Fiction are running another competition. This time they're offering €50 for 300 words about overseas travel.

I know what you're thinking – I'm just mentioning this as another excuse to post up one of my holiday snaps. Well you're wrong as really I'm doing it so I can mention that I made the longlist of their last competition.

You still get a photo though. Can you guess were it was taken?

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Anything bothering you?

It's time for another Insecure Writer's Support Group post - this month I'm a co host along with, Tamara NarayanM.J. Fifield and Nicohle Christopherson. If you have any writing related insecurities do share them with us and we'll do our best to help – and if we can't, we will at least read them in a sympathetic manner.

This month's suggested question is; "Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?"

Over the years I've retrieved and studied some of my earlier pieces, with varying results. In a few cases I realised what I'd written was never going to make a good story and deleted it. I know we're told never to delete anything, but why shouldn't we if it has already served its purpose? Writing them helped me as I'm now much better at recognising if an idea is worth spending time on.

Other stories did have good ideas behind them, but at the time of writing I hadn't the skill to do them justice. As I learned more, I rewrote and improved them. My characters gained character, they started to speak like real people. I showed their motivations and reactions rather than simply reporting their actions. Some of these stories were then sold.

In one case, what I'd started with was really just a plot outline. Back when I wrote it, nothing I'd produced was over about 1,000 words. When I gained in confidence I worked on it and doubled the length. There's no doubt that it was far better than the original, written eight years before. It still got rejected everywhere I sent it.

Another eight years on, I took another look. And gave it another rewrite. After several rewrites, sixteen years and a threefold increase in the word count I sold it.

I find it hugely encouraging that I've improved so much in that time that I've had the confidence to co-author From Story Idea to Reader – an accessible guide to writing fiction. That won't be the end of the process though. As we write, review our own work, get feedback from others and read well-written pieces we can, and should, continue to improve.

How about you – can you see an ongoing improvement in your writing? Are you feeling insecure about anything writing related?