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).

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.

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?

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?