Wednesday 29 August 2018


A kyle is the term for a narrow channel between islands, or an island and the mainland – but only in Scotland. There's one between the island of Skye and the Scottish mainland, called the Kyle of Lochalsh (because it's at the end of Loch Alsh). I think this is it ...

There's also a village called the Kyle of Lochalsh. There are other places in the area with Kyle in the name, such as Kylerhea and Kyleakin. My navigation is haphazard at best, so we sometimes visit places we hadn't intended too. Luckily the whole area is so beautiful that we're rarely disappointed, wherever we end up.

A reminder – my new short story collection, Perfect Timing is currently on offer for 99p / 99c.

Wednesday 22 August 2018


An oddity is a strange thing, person, occurrence or a peculiar trait. It can also mean the state of being odd.

When I was a kid, some people considered me a bit of an oddity, but they didn't know I was going to become a writer. As writers go, I don't think I'm especially weird. I'm barely eccentric really, if you catch me on a good day.

Are you an oddity?

Wednesday 15 August 2018


Candystripe is a pattern on just about anything, including candy, which is striped in alternate pastel colours, usually pink and white.

The #writingchat writing cat (aka Scribbles) is candystriped.

#writingchat is a weekly twitter chat – about writing! It happens between 8 and 9pm, Wednesday evenings, and there's a different topic each time. To take part, just tweet using the hashtag. Everyone (and their cats, fictitious or otherwise) welcome.

Do you have anything candystriped? Or a cat? Or a candystriped cat?

Wednesday 8 August 2018


An Anglophile is fond of, or admires, the English and/or our culture and traditions. I think that one is fairly well known, but it wasn't until I came to write this post that I discovered Caledonophile, Hibernophile and Cambrophile for lovers of the other parts of the UK. Had you heard of those?

Here's me pouring tea and looking vaguely embarrassed, which is about as English as it gets.

Do you especially like the people or culture of any particular country (including your own)? If so, which one, and why? 

Wednesday 1 August 2018


A pitfall is a trap. Either in the physical sense of a hole dug in the ground to trap animals, or in the more metaphorical sense of a snare or drawback. In either case, you could be happily walking along, minding your own business and ... splat! you've fallen into one. Avoiding them can be tricky, but climbing out again if you don't is even harder.

Pitfalls are often difficult to spot, which is why they're so dangerous. That also makes them hard to photograph, so here's a waterfall instead - they're something else worth looking out for which you probably don't want to accidentally fall into.

Here's a free to enter poetry writing competition which offers €500 as the prize. Don't fall into the pitfall of not reading all the rules before entry and therefore being disqualified – you do have to write the right kind of poem, and be able to get yourself to Limerick.

As it's the first wednesday of the month, it's time for an Insecure Writer's Support Group post. This

month's (optional) question is –

What pitfalls would you warn other writers to avoid on their publication journey?

I'd say don't expect too much, especially when you get your first success, and don't be discouraged if your hopes aren't realised. 

I remember, after months of trying, having two stories accepted for magazines quite close together and thinking I'd made it! The next batch of rejections hurt more than any I've had before or since.

A similar thing happened after I won a novel writing competition. I had visions of the book being on the shelves of bookstores and libraries countrywide and earning me a decent royalty cheque. Unfortunately the publishing company was new, with very limited resources – they couldn't promote the book, or offer the kind of discounts major retailers demand. I did get to do a book signing in Waterstones, and some libraries stock it, but I earned only a very small royalty before the publisher ceased trading. That was a while ago now, I'm long over the disappointment and have self published that book – and lots more.

Of course some writers do 'make it' quite quickly and earn lots of money. There's no harm in hoping you'll be one of them, just as long as you realise that a slower route to success of more modest proportions is more likely.