Friday, 29 December 2017

Life writing

Do you fancy having a go at life writing? If you're wondering what it is, it seems to be like life drawing, except you're the model, it's your soul rather than body which is shown in its naked state and you paint the picture with words.

At this point, I was starting to worry about how I'd illustrate this post. Luckily I remembered my life involves quite a lot of swanning around.

" The Prize rewards the winner with £1500, an Arvon course, two years’ membership to the Royal Society of Literature, a development meeting with literary agent Robert Caskie and a development meeting with an editor at Unbound. Two highly commended writers receive £500, a writing mentor, a development meeting with agent Robert Caskie and a development meeting with an editor at Unbound."

You can enter here.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017


Hydromania is a craving or passion for water. 

I'm not sure my wish to be on a beach qualifies as hydromania, but I would quite like to be somewhere sunny and sandy, with gentle waves rippling on to the shore and gulls wheeling overhead...

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Happy Everything!

The Druid, The Sphere and I all wish you a very happy anything you care to celebrate around this time of year.

If you have any terrible festive jokes or puns, the comment section of this post is the place to share them.

Just to set the tone ... Santa has three gardens, as he likes to ho, ho, ho!

Friday, 22 December 2017


This competition, run by the Writers' and Artists' Yearbook is for short stories of up to 2,000 words and offers a writing retreat as the prize.

I must be a winner, as I already have a writing retreat!

Wednesday, 20 December 2017


Matins, which may also be written as martins, is a service of morning Christian prayer. Or it may be a night 'office of prayer', but it can also happen at daybreak or in the evening. There, aren't you glad I cleared that up for you?

Matins (or mattins) is both the singular and the plural, so at least that's simple.

You may recall me moaning about poets getting an extra definition for the word bedew (no reason you should remember, but you might). They're at it again with matins as they can use it to describe birdsong. Only in the morning though.

Sunday, 17 December 2017


For this competition you're asked to submit one or two pieces of flash fiction, or a photograph for possible inclusion in an ezine from which you'll earn royalties.

The guidelines made me laugh so much I felt obliged to enter, but then I do have an odd sense of humour.

Talking of which ... Here's a trophy I won earlier this week. It's tricky to read, what with the shadows, reflections and my thumb print, but I promise you it's for humorous writing.

If you live in Yorkshire you may be interested in this competition for short stories or poetry. Thanks to Alyson Faye for telling me about it and that the deadline has been extended until 22nd December. She should know - she's judging it. It's free to enter and there are nice prizes.

Friday, 15 December 2017

Next Top Writer Contest

I've been asked by Sydney Liu, a co-founder of Commaful, to pass on these competition details:

"We are hosting a writing contest called the Next Top Writer Contest where the winners get shared to an audience of over 4 million people. The contest features 8 judges that span from award winning writers to best-selling authors. The regularly hosts other contests that can be found here and this is the biggest contest to date!

The competition is 100% free to enter!

Entry is via the site itself. You can transfer past works or write something new on the site.

I think this will benefit a lot of people :)"

I've put in an entry, mostly to see what was involved. You can read it here.

There are to be unspecified prizes from the judges and sponsors as well as 'massive exposure' for the winners. Does having your work read by four million people appeal?

Wednesday, 13 December 2017


Salacin is a bitter substance with analgesic properties, which can be obtained from willow bark.

The trunk you can see at the right of this picture is our willow. If you'd like some salacin, please come round and help yourself to a branch as it could do with pruning.

Monday, 11 December 2017

The Drabble

A drabble is a story of less than 100 words. The Drabble is a site which publishes these.

There's no reward, other than the possible glory of your piece being chosen as the editor's pick, but when I came across the site I was tempted to submit something.

You can read it here.

Do you fancy having a go yourself?

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Facebook group

Rosemary J Kind and I have set up a Facebook group called From Story Idea to Reader as an online companion to our book of the same name. Group members are invited to ask questions about any writing related subject.

We’ll also be offering writing tips and support. You can join up here, if you'd like to - no pressure!

Friday, 8 December 2017

It's Murder!

There's still time to enter the Wordsmag short story competition.  The theme is murder, max word count is 2,000 words, it's free to enter and there's a cash prize of £50.

Btw, after mentioning Ad Hoc Fiction's weekly flash competition, I decided to have a try. The first prompt I saw generated a 1,000 word piece instead of 150, so I sent that off to a magazine and tried again last week. My story made it through the first round. You can read it, and others here. Whichever is voted the best will win.
The competition is still running. The prize each week is free entry into the Bath Flash Fiction Award - and the prize for that is £1,000.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017


No, I didn't write 50,000 words of a novel in November and so 'win' Nano. I didn't even come close (just over halfway). No, I'm not worried about that, nor do I feel like a failure. The novel is further advanced than it would have been if I hadn't signed up. I also wrote seven short stories and a piece of flash last month. Seven is more than I manage in some months where I don't do anything towards a novel, so that's pretty good.

More important than the words I've written is what I've learned about the best method to write. Best for me that is. I couldn't keep writing because I didn't plan my NaNo project well enough, because I didn't know the characters well enough to know how they'd react to the situations I put them in, because I hadn't started writing them, because the plan wasn't complete. That sounds like a vicious circle, but it isn't really – not unless I'm trying to write the entire first draft in one go. When I'm not attempting to do that, I can plan a bit and write it, then plan a bit more and write that, on and on until the end.

Another thing I've learned is that I can write seven short stories in a month if it'll get me out of writing something else. Hmmm, maybe in December I'll add a big chunk to the novel in order to get out of writing short stories?

Most importantly though, I'm learning not to feel insecure because I'm not succeeding in the same way as other writers. If we judge ourselves against others, there will always be someone who writes more words, or submits more work, or sells more, or gets better reviews, or earns more, or something.

Instead I'm going to judge myself against the me of the previous month. The current me has written more, submitted more and sold more than the old me. The Insecure Writer's Support Group hasn't lost a member though – I'm not sure any writers ever totally overcome all their insecurities.

How about you? Did you 'win' NaNo? Do something else with your time? Has the current version of you added to the achievements of the you from last month?

Tuesday, 5 December 2017


This free to enter writing competition is for the Keats-Shelley Prize of £3,000. To enter you'll need to write a poem about Liberty, or an essay about the romantics and their circles (or both - you can submit two of each.)

To be honest, I'm not absolutely sure I understand the question, so I'll be sticking with romance, rather than romantics.

Are you familiar with the hymn, or in possesion of interesting facts about Keats or Shelley?

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Small story - big prize.

The Reader's Digest are again running their 100 word short story competition. (Thanks to Carrie Hewlett for reminding me.) It's free to enter, you have until mid February to come up with something good and the prize is £1,000!

Are you wondering about a catch? There are a couple. Reader's Digest take world copyright as a condition of entry. Despite this, there will be an enormous number of entries, making your chances of success quite slim.

What do you think - is it worth a try?

I couldn't think of a way to illustrate this post, so here's a random photo of mine that you may, if you wish, use as a story prompt. If it inspires a piece of writing, of any length, please let me know.

Friday, 1 December 2017

Going up

For this competition you're asked to write an uplifting 500 word story. The prize is publication in Lothian Life and a six week online writing course.

Thanks to Gail Aldwin for passing on the link.

If you were going to be lifted up what, or who,  would you like to be responsible?