Monday, 30 April 2018

Retreating west.

Thank you to Alyson Hilbourne for telling me about this free to enter flash fiction competition from Retreat West.

The task is to write up to 300 words using the photo as a prompt – that's the photo on the website, not the one I'm showing here, which of my retreat to the West Country.

The five best will be published on the website, with the author's bio. The winner will be decided by public vote and receive free entry into the site's quarterly competition, for which there's a £200 prize.

Friday, 27 April 2018

Just Back?

The Telegraph runs a weekly travel writing competition. They want 'feature articles' of 500 words. The prize is publication in The Daily Telegraph, plus £250 in the foreign currency of your choice. There's also an annual award of £1,000 for the article which is considered best overall.

Did I tell you about the time we went to Dunkirk and, in my search for wildflowers, accidentally wandered into a nuclear power station ... carrying a large camera, no ID and the sort of embarrassment over my almost non existent French which makes me look and sound guilty as soon as I say bonjour?

Wednesday, 25 April 2018


Sepia either means a dark, reddish brown colour, or the lighter and less red tone which was once the only option in photography, but which I was unable to recreate with my digital camera and computer. It's also the fluid secreted by a cuttlefish, the pigment prepared from that, or a drawing created using it.

Don't know about you, but I'd rather have colour at the press of a button, than squeeze a cuttlefish in the hope of monochrome.

Monday, 23 April 2018

Remastered words

Remastered words are looking for fantasy stories of no more than 5,000 words. It's OK to submit previously published work as long as it hasn't been produced in an audio format.

The top prize is £75, plus royalties on the resulting audio anthology. (To be honest, I didn't know audio anthologies were a thing until I discovered this competition, but now I do know, I want to be in one.)

I've written about witches – does that count as fantasy?

Friday, 20 April 2018

TSS Publishing

TSS Publishing are currently open to submissions. They're looking for short stories of between 2,000 and 4,000 words. They prefer literary fiction, but are open to other genres. Succesful authors can choose between a £20 payment, or a chapbook subscription.

They also run competitions. Unlike most of those I mention, these aren't free to enter. However they do have quite good cash prizes, so you may feel it's worth the gamble.

Do you ever enter competitions with an entry fee, or submit work to places which have a reading fee?

Wednesday, 18 April 2018


To be huffy can either mean offended, or quick to take offence. A person may be only a little huffy, a bit huffier than that or the huffiest of all.

The huffiness will become apparent due to the person who's in a huff behaving huffily.

I was going to illustrate this post with a picture of me looking huffy, but couldn't find one. I therefore conclude that I'm not even the slightest bit huffish ... even when the weather is a touch damp and ever so slightly breezy.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Falmouth – phew!

Do you write scripts? If so, you might like to enter this competition and be in with a chance of winning the £6,000 prize. It's free to enter and open to all writers aged 16 or over. The competition is funded by Falmouth University, which is handy as I've been to Falmouth and would otherwise have been stumped when it came to finding an illustration which is in any way appropriate.

I've never attempted writing a play, and doubt I ever will, but I have started a murder mystery story, set partly in the grounds of Pendennis castle ... in Falmouth.

Are there any forms or genres of writing that you've not tried? If so, is that just because you've not got around to them yet, or because you feel they're not for you.

Friday, 13 April 2018

With Love And Kisses

I have a new book out! With Love And Kisses is a collection of 25 romantic short stories and is my second collection of romance stories. All That Love Stuff, published last year was the first and it's quite likely there will be another next year.

I like putting stories into themed collections and so far have three collections based on plants and gardens, two of family stories and one of slightly spooky tales.

Although I often write about subjects which interest me, it's not usual for me to be able to precisely answer that favourite question for writers, 'Where do you get your ideas from?' For 24 stories in With Love And Kisses, I'd have to give a very vague response. That's not the case with 'Just This One Time.' I remember exactly what prompted it and where I was when I came up with the plot.

My last day job before I became a full time writer was as a tour guide on HMS Victory. I can't remember why, but Norah McGrath who was then the fiction editor for Take a Break magazine, phoned me at work and was told I'd have to call her back as I was on the ship. When I spoke to her she asked which ship and what was I doing there. She then suggested I write something set onboard. I'm sure I'm not the only person who considered a suggestion from Norah to be much more than a hint, so when I returned to the quarterdeck of HMS Victory, in between answering visitor's questions, I began thinking of possible story ideas.

A historical story was out. That's been done many, many times before – and original, plausible plotlines suitable for a women's magazine are rarer than Admiral Nelson's arms. I'd already written several stories about tour guides, or based loosely on things which happened in our staff room (shh, don't tell my colleagues.) Then a family appeared up the port side ladder, headed by dad who was loudly repeating some of the common misconceptions held by visitors to the ship. He walked straight past me – and straight into the story.

The story actually ended up in a Woman's Weekly Fiction Special, as did Waiting For An Answer, another story with a connection to HMS Victory, and Portrait Of A Wife, one of my few historical stories. These are also included in With Love And Kisses.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018


A destination is a place to which a person, or thing, is going.

You already knew that, didn't you? I expect you also realised, as soon as you spotted it, that I'd only picked the word in order to provide an excuse to post more of my travel pictures.

Is the destination of your novel somewhere on the bestseller list? If you think it has that potential, you've already got a lot of it done and it happens to have a theme of new beginnings, you might like to enter it into this competition.

Do you recognise any of these destinations?

Monday, 9 April 2018

Wedding gifts

Solution Loans are running a free to enter short story writing competition with the theme of 'the wedding gift'. You have 1,500 to 2,000 words and until the end of May. The first prize is £200.

This advice can be found on the site –

“As a writer, it’s worth remembering that your first idea for a story may often be someone else’s too, so it might be a good idea to dig again more deeply for a different or more unusual idea?”

My uncle had these badges made for my wedding and handed them out to qualifying guests. I'm reasonably certain that's not something that's ocurred to many other people!

Friday, 6 April 2018

Woolly writer

Thanks to Ingrid for bringing this competition to my attention. It's free to enter and you have the choice of crafting poetry or a short story. The pizes are rather nice; yarn, a paintbox and calligraphy set, valued at around £400 in total.

As always, do read the T&Cs carefully. There are nothing wooly about these, but they do include – All entries become the property of Aceville Publications Ltd. That doesn't mean you shouldn't enter, but does mean you can't then do anything else with that particular piece of writing. 

Wednesday, 4 April 2018


To sustain is to support, bear the weight of, strengthen, encourage or nourish.

It can also mean to endure or suffer, to decide in favour of something, substantiate, corroborate or maintain.

One who sustains is a sustainer. Do you qualify for that description?

Sustainability is a topical issue, meaning as it does 'avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance'. That's very important of course, but I suspect we're doing even more damage by what we're adding to the planet than what we're removing – plastic, greenhouse gasses and other pollution, nuclear and chemical weapons ... but this is a writing blog, so I won't continue in this theme sustainedly.

Sustaining interest in our writing can be something which makes many writers feel insecure. For some it can seem like they're enduring the writing process rather than being supported and encouraged by it.

For others, the worry is how to sustain a reader's interest, either as they're reading one piece, or in their writing as a whole. 

If any of those, or anything else is making you feel like an insecure writer, then you might like to consider joining the Insecure Writer's Support Group.

For me, the issue making me feel most insecure at the moment is how to achieve a sustainment of sales for my lovely books. I probably need to do some form of marketing, perhaps even make a sustained effort in that direction? 

This free to enter short story competition has the theme of sustainability. The first prize is £200 – if you don't want it, feel free to send it over and I'll recycle it for you!

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Thinking of spring?

If you can think poetically of spring, in less than four lines, you can enter this free poetry competition.

The prize is a £250 gift card to spend at Thought who, amongst other things, sell 'sustainable socks'.

Sunday, 1 April 2018

A Poem To Remember

Thanks to Alyson Hilbourne for sending me the info about two free to enter poetry competitions. 

The Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre are looking for 'poetry that honours those affected by service and pays tribute to humankind's capacity to cope with adversity. '

The prize includes having the poem read by HRH The Duke of Cambridge and being 'displayed prominently in perpetuity at the Centre.' Oh and £2,000 for first prize and four other prizes of £500.

You're tempted, aren't you?

The second is this one. I really can't imagine why Alyson thought of me when she saw it.