Wednesday, 30 May 2018


Gusto means enjoyment or vigour in doing something. For example, the wildflowers in Patsy's mini meadow seem to grow with gusto.

When gusto is followed by for it means relish or liking. Patsy has gusto for cake. It is also an old term for a form of artistic execution.

If you write sci-fi, horror or fantasy stories with gusto, you may be interested in this short story competition – you have up to 17,000 words to play with.  As usual for those I feature on this blog, it's free to enter and there's a prize. In this case $1,000 for first place (then $750 and $500).

Monday, 28 May 2018


Here's a free to enter competition for bloggers. There are cash prizes, different age categories including those born before 2000, worldwide eligibility, the subject is education with specific questions to answer and you have until 13th October to enter. Those are the details I'm sure of.

I'm a bit hazy on the actual prize, it seems dependent on the number of entries. I'm also slightly unsure as to how people enter. As it's for bloggers, I'd gussed it would be via a blog post, but there's mention of entry forms and emailing submissions. Still, if you're keen to get your hands on up to $2,400, I'm sure you'll figure it out.

Friday, 25 May 2018

Not set in stone

Thanks to Lindsay Bamfield for sending me the link to this travel writing competition. Although they're expecting mainly factual entries, that's not a requirement of entry.

Both fiction and non-fiction are welcome. Entries should be on the theme of 'Heritage'. There's plenty of time to get your entry in, it's open to all and there's £200 on offer.

As travelling, writing and history are three of my interests, I really should try this one, shouldn't I?

Maybe I could do something about the journey between these two sets of stones?

Wednesday, 23 May 2018


A conflagration is a great and destructive fire. It feels like there should be more to it than that, but apparently there isn't.

I quite like setting fire to things, but only in a small and controlled manner. Not it the manner of a conflagration nor as happens in my novel Firestarter.

Monday, 21 May 2018

Somewhere in Spain

This competition is for prose (fiction or non fiction) or poetry, which are about Galicia 'in a significant way' although entrants are not required to have actually been there.

Entry is free and there's a small cash prize for the winner, which is good. All entries must be available for inclusion in an anthology, which you might be happy about. No payment is made for publication, which you might not. On the plus side, there probably won't be a huge number of entries, so if you do fancy a go, the odds should be in your favour.

I've not been to Galicia, have you? As not having visited is no bar to entry, I'm taking that as permission to post a picture of somewhere in Spain I have seen.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018


To dissect is to cut into pieces. Often this means a plant or animal, for the purposes of examination, but cakes can be dissected to. The person carrying out the dissection is known as the dissector (or Patsy, in the cases of cakes).

Not all dissections are physical. the term can also be applied to analysing, criticising or studying in detail. For example a competition judge may have to dissect the entries in order to decide which is most deserving of a prize.

Perhaps you can work a dissection into your entry from one of these two short story competitions from Wordsmag? With themes of Christmas and Murder, it shouldn't be too difficult. Both are free to enter and have a first prize of £50.

Wednesday, 9 May 2018


Ekphrasis is a literary description or commentary on a piece of visual art. For example The Girl With The Pearl Earring is an ekphractic novel, inspired by Johannes Vemeer's painting of the same name.

I'm not sure if there's a word for art inspired by writing, but if there is, it might apply to the cover of my novel Paint Me A Picture. My talented husband Gary created it, using technical witchcraft and digital magic.

Thank you to Marion Clarke for telling me about the Ekphractic challenge, which is a free to enter poetry competition.

Each month, a new piece of artwork will be posted, to act as inspiration. There are two prizes, of $50 each – one awarded by the artist and one by Rattle's editor.

Have you ever used one kind of artwork to inspire another?

Monday, 7 May 2018

Help for struggling writers

The Creative Future Literary Awards are for "people who are under-represented in the literary world – those who find it difficult to access the literary world either because of mental health issues, disability, health or social circumstance." 

If you're eligible (more details of groups they consider to be under represented are listed on the website), you may submit either poetry or a short story and be in with a chance of a substantial cash prize along with professional writing help. The competition is free to enter. Donations are welcomed to allow it to remain so.

Sometimes this writing lark can feel like a bit of a struggle, but I'm aware that compared with the battles some people face, I really have it very easy. I must make more effort to count my blessings, rather than focus on a few little irritations.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018


Season often refers to a time of year. There are the obvious seasons of spring, summer, autumn and winter, and others such as holiday season, barbecue season and silly season (a slow news period, when insignificant events can become headlines news). 

To be influenced by the seasons is the behave seasonally or in a seasonal manner.

Animals are often said to be in season, which can either mean being ready to breed, or when it's considered acceptable to hunt them.

Season can also mean a proper or suitable time, a time devoted to a particular activity (cricket season), or to flavour food with seasoning. Historically 'the season' referred to the time of year devoted by the rich and upper claesses to social activities, in order to find someone equally rich and posh to marry.

If a person, or object is seasoned, it means they're not young, but generally in a good way. A seasoned writer will know to avoid some beginner mistakes, such as seasoning your work with too many adverbs, seasoned wood doesn't split when it's made into doorframe.

As it's the first Wednesday of the month, it's time for an Insecure Writer's Support Group post. This months optional question is – It's spring! Does this season inspire you to write more than others, or not?

Personally, not. Spring is my favourite season and it does inspire me to write, but also to get out in the garden, to travel, to take long walks, to laze in the sunshine reading a book. As a result, although I may be more inspired, I actually have less time for writing.

How about you? Do you write, or do anything else, according to the seasons?