Wednesday, 27 June 2018


The word gizzit isn't in my dictionary and I'll be surprised if it's in yours. Does that mean it isn't a real word? Not in my opinion. I reckon if it has meaning to the person who uses it, and at least some of the audience, then it's a real word.

A gizzit is a freebie, usually given out for promotional or marketing reasons. The word is a shortened form of 'give us it' which I suppose is the reaction those who're offering them want. Not A Drop To Drink is a freebie, and I hope people want to download a copy.

My friend Susan Jones made these key rings and fridge magnets for me, to help me promote my books (see here if you'd like her to make you some). Aren't they nice? Actually they may be a bit too nice to use as gizzits, so I'll have to think of other ways to use them. Susan suggested attaching a keyring to any bags I use, so it will always be on display. Any good suggestions for other ways to use these, and where to display the fridge magnets?

Now you know what a gizzit is (or maybe you knew already) do you agree with me that it's a real word?

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Rights grabs are not right!

Is it OK for a magazine (or anywhere else) to demand all rights for a story? I don't think it is – this post and this one, explain why. If you'd like to help women's magazine writers stand up for their rights, please leave a comment, share or tweet about this.

Monday, 25 June 2018


A couple of days ago, I got this email –

"... I’m getting in touch with you regarding our ServiceScape Short Story Award 2018. This is a free to enter writing contest.

For this writing award, any genre or theme of short story is accepted. All applicants should submit their original unpublished work of short fiction or nonfiction, up to 5,000 words, by November 30. Along with receiving an award for $1,000.00 USD, the winner will have his or her short story featured within our blog, which reaches thousands of readers per month. 

You can find more information on our short story writing contest at If you find this award resource to be of value to you and your readers, I’d appreciate it if you would add it to your site ..."

As it's free, there's a cash prize, and I was asked nicely, I decided to post it up. That's despite the fact that I couldn't think what image I could use with it. I considered using landscapes or seascapes, but that seemed a bit tenuous. My next idea was to use something to illustrate how I'd spend the money, were I to win. As that would be travelling to see interesting seascapes or landscapes, you're still stuck with some of my travel photos. Again.

Wednesday, 20 June 2018


Obviously air is the mix of gasses we breathe and which birds, planes and balloons fly in. It can also refer to our manner or behaviour e.g. at times Patsy has the air of a romantic writer (I believe it's the pink scarf and celtic clip, which do it) and we can put on airs and graces, in the hope of making an impression.

To air the laundry is to warm it (usually done inside, not out in the fresh air). We can open windows to air a room, or open our lungs (or tap away madly on social media) to air a grievance. Melodious music can also be referred to as an air.

My latest short story collection is In The Garden Air. I've dedicated it to my late grandparents, all of whom were very keen gardeners who encouraged me to develop that same passion. I'm lucky in that the three of them lived long enough to see me create gardens of my own (sadly I never knew the fourth).

My current garden contains plants raised from seeds, cuttings and divisions which were once in their gardens. Whenever I'm in the garden, it feels a little as though in some way they're still with me – my memories of them really are in the garden air.

Granny and Grandma were both great readers. They'd have been delighted to hold books I'd written, and thrilled to see my stories in the magazines they read, so I know they'd have been pleased to see their names in the front of In The Garden Air, which is the fourth of my plant and garden themed collections and contains 24 stories.


Friday, 15 June 2018

Written a novel novel?

For this competition, "The judges will be looking for novels which explore and expand the possibilities of the form, which are innovative and imaginative in style, which tackle subjects and themes relevant to the world we live in." If you've written something which does that, then you could might win the £3,000 prize. Sorry, UK residents only.

As my novel Leave Nothing But Footprints has already been published, I can't enter it. I doubt that it's what they're looking for anyway, but as it's set in a camper van, features great scenery, food and photographers, and is romantic, it's very relevant to the world in which I'm living at the moment!

Wednesday, 13 June 2018


A nugget is a lump of gold, or other precious substance, as found in the earth. It can also mean anything else which is valuable for its size, particularly something abstract such as a useful nugget of information.

As I lack both lumps of gold and the skill to photograph abstract concepts, here's a picture of Hev-Ock. She may be small, but I treasure her. My oldest (yet still incredibly youthful) friend gave her to me for luck and since then she's been a little nugget of inspiration.

Monday, 11 June 2018

Visual Verse

Each month, Visual Verse offer an image as a prompt and invite writers to come up with a short story or poem in just one hour. (You start when you like and time yourself.) It's probably more of a personal challenge than a competition against others, although as they say they'll publish 'up to 100 writers over the course of the month' it seems reasonable to suppose that they'll select the best pieces.

This seems to me like a fun thing to do. Can you spare an hour to have a go? If that's too long, or you fancy a warm up, you can try this challenge – I'm giving you three minutes, starting from now, to write something prompted by this image. You can either post it below, or if you decide to keep working on it and submit it somewhere, just say that's what you're doing.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018


It's summer – and there are plenty of distractions from writing. I mean the definitions of 'something that distracts; an interuption' and a relaxation from work, amusement. Those are good forms of distraction and for me involve being out in the garden, or away in the camper van.
 Being distracted is often associated with a loss of concentration on the job in hand. Another, far less pleasant, meaning of distraction is confusion, perplexity – even a frenzy of madness. For example, trying to promote my latest book of short stories drives me to distraction

If I was suffering in either of those ways, I'd definitely be needing the help of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, who'd no doubt reassure me that I'm not alone in often being distracted and probably offer advice on overcoming the issue. They're good like that!
For a writer, being considered distracting is an excellent thing. We want to make the reader forget the reality around them and immerse themselves in the worlds our words create. I've had readers tell me they've been so distracted by my novels that they've missed their stop on a train, let the dinner burn or continued reading long after they'd planned to stop.

I'm sorry about the spoiled food and hope they weren't late for anything fun, but otherwise very pleased by such comments.

If you've written a really distracting unpublished novel, and live in the UK then you might like to enter it in this competition and be in with the chance of winning £30,000. Gosh, just planning what to spend that cash on could keep me distracted for hours!

Saturday, 2 June 2018

£20,000 prize for self published book

Amazon are running a competition offering £20,000 cash, support, promotion and stuff like that. All you have to do is write a book, self publish it through them in ebook and paperback forms and enter the appropriate phrase in the keywords, and you're in with a chance. (There are some nationality restrictions, but entry isn't limited to the UK.)

The snag is that "Readers will play a significant role in the competition, with the award shortlist compiled based on customer feedback for the entries" which I suspect means that only those which get a large number of good reviews will ever get read by the judging team.

As it happens, I'd already planned to release more short story collections during the appropriate period, so it makes sense for me to enter them, doesn't it? The first Just A Job is available now. 

BLURB: Work is a huge part of our lives; from the first time someone asks us what we'll be when we grow up, until we're drawing our pension and looking back with relief or regret. Through training for and obtaining them, travelling to and actually being there, to winding down at the end of a busy day, our jobs take up much of our time.

Whether full time, part time, or can't wait for home time, working from home, working away, carer or career, paid or volunteer, we all have a job to do. Most people have friends at our place of work, and perhaps there are rivals. It's where many of us meet our partners. Love or hate it, like almost everything else in life, our job is what we make it.

Bosses, employees and colleagues all have a story to tell. Just A Job contains 25 of them.