Wednesday, 31 May 2017


There are several definitions of the word family. It can be used to describe all the languages derived from the same earlier language, a group of objects distinguished by common features, and a group of related genera in an order or taxonomic collection (the daisy family, cat family etc).

The most common and familiar use though is for a group of people. That's the meaning I had in mind for my set of family themed short story collections. The latest* of these, Can't Choose Your Family, is available now. For this week, the kindle version is on sale for 99p (or 99c). Usual price will be £1.99 ($2.99)

In order to define family, my dictionary starts off by mentioning parents and their children, but families come in a huge variety of combinations. There may be one parent, or none. Perhaps it's step-parents, or grandparents who raise the children. Maybe there aren't any children. I feel that a family can be any group of people related by birth or marriage, or possibly even by circumstance.

No Family Secrets was the first. Does that make it a big sister to the second one?

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Pays to be early

Here's a travel writing competition with a $200 first prize. It's free to enter, but only if you submit by 31st May. If you want another couple of months to work on your piece, you'll have to pay an entry fee.

You may include up to three photos - which I'm taking as permission to do the same thing.

 If you're wondering about the location, here's a clue - walk carefully past the dragons.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Waxing lyrical

Here's a poetry competition with a £40 prize for the winner and another £40 for the top UK poet (if these are the same person, they'll get £80 and there will then be a £10 second prize.) That double incentive has encouraged me to have a go.

The first entry is free. You can submit up to two more poems, but if you do then you'll need to pay an entry fee.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017


Correctitude means correctness and especially concise correctness of conduct. That's a pleasingly alliterative phrase, but not somehing I feel able to demonstrate photographically. Or at all.

Oh look - a squirrel!

Sunday, 21 May 2017


I'm in Wales conducting novel research.

It's a tough job being a writer.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Come and See

I'm pleased to have won Third Word's fortnightly flash fiction competition with an extract from my novel Escape to the Country.

This is an ongoing competition, requiring just 80 words and offering a £20 cash prize.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017


A few days ago I mistyped the word entertainment as entrainment. No wiggly red line appeared underneath, so I realised it was an actual word. One I didn't know. As I'm just a little odd, I was rather pleased with that ... until I looked it up.

It means to get on a train. Why that should disappoint me I can't really say.

Entrain can also mean to drag along, or when applied to a fluid, to carry particles along in its flow. Eg The tea leaves were entrained from the pot into the cup.

Oh! I've just cheered myself up by remembering I took a photo (OK lots) of a steam train in Scotland. Three points if you can name it.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Happy birthday!

No, it's not my birthday, but that of Alfie Dog Fiction. Don't let that stop you sending me cake though, as I was their very first author, so it's an anniversary for me too.

To celebrate their first five years, Alfie Dog are having an online party (You're all invited!) They will also be running special features, offering discounted stories and giving away books. News of all these things will be posted on the website and on social media.

The photo shows Wilma (a friend of Alfie Dog's) myself and Rosemary J Kind. Between us, Rosemary and I wrote Alfie Dog Fiction's first ever non fiction book. (It's about writing fiction, so it does make sense for the company to publish it – honest.)

Will you be joining in the Alfie Dog celebrations?

Friday, 12 May 2017

Cafe Culture

Thanks to Alyson for sending me details of this free entry short story competition. The prize is £500 and you have until the end of October to come up with a submission.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017


Doesn't supermundane sound soooo boring? Actually it means out of this world or superior to earthly things. And that makes it jolly difficult to illustrate.

This is Arbroath Abbey. We enjoyed our visit there very much - definitely closer to super than to mundane.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

A short break

For the last few weeks, most of my writing time has been taken up with editing Leave Nothing But Footprints, a romance about photographers, which is set in a campervan. (No doubt I'll still get asked where I get my ideas from!)

The current draft is now complete. I'm going to celebrate with a walk along the beach, then work on short stories for a while, before going back for what I hope will be the final edit.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Are you really a failure?

Do you feel like a failure each time a piece of writing gets rejected or fails to be placed in a competition? You're not alone if so and that attitude is perfectly understandable ... but it's not the only way to look at things.

If you wrote something which matched the publisher/editor/judge's requirements in terms of word count, subject and layout, finished it to the best of your ability and sent it in (before any deadline) that's an achievement in itself and you should be proud of yourself. (If you didn't do all those things, there's a jolly good reason your piece wasn't accepted and you can put it right for next time.)

Have you been published or placed in a competition before? If you have there's no reason for that not to happen again. Keep trying.

Maybe you feel you've not yet had any success. Are you sure? No stories have been long listed? No busy editor thought your writing so good they took the time and trouble to send you something other than a standard rejection letter? Look at, or think back to, your earliest writing. Have you improved since then? Those things prove you're on the right track. Keep going.

Are you reading, learning and writing regularly? If you are, you're doing what just about every writer did before their first success - and keeps on doing. Don't quit.

The Insecure Writer's Support Group post on the first Wednesday of each month. It exists to ... well, I think you can work it out. All writers are welcome to join.