Wednesday, 26 September 2018


A muselet is the little wire cage thingy which holds the cork into a bottle of fizzy (and usually alcoholic) liquid. I know this because my lovely husband told me, adding, "Did you know there was a word for that?"

My reply was, "Yes, love, I did. There's a word for everything. Do you not read my blog?"

He then suggested he remove the muselet from a bottle he'd previously put in the fridge, so that was OK. (The photo shows more than one night's 'research' – honest!)

Talking of liquid, for those who've not yet read my small taster collection of short stories, Not A Drop To Drink, it's still available as a free download.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018


To be on your tod means to be alone. If you're British, the chances are you knew that – but did you know the phrase originated as Cockney rhyming slang? The Tod in question was a jockey called Tod Sloan. Whether he was most often alone at the front or the back of the field, I can't tell you.

Alternatives are on your pat (Pat Malone) and on your Jack (Jack Jones). Who Pat and Jack were is something else I can't tell you. Maybe that's something you can tell me?

Here's me apparently on my tod in Rhodes.

Friday, 14 September 2018

Words about Wordsmag

I mention Wordsmag a couple of times a year as there are two annual, free entry competitions. The results of the first one for 2018 are here – you'll probably recognise some names ;-). The second, with the theme of murder, is currently open and offers a first prize of £50. You can enter here.

I asked the editor of Wordsmag to tell me a bit more about himself and the publication...

Shaun Peare is an ex-Civil Servant, is married and lives in London. He is an experienced editor, writer, publisher and says, "I have been involved in writing for over forty-five years and in publishing since 1989 – editing and publishing a quarterly magazine of short stories showcasing writing talent from around the world".

Founded nearly thirty years ago Words is now an online magazine designed especially for people who love reading stories that lift the spirit – without a religious slant. Stories that lift the heart – without being gushily romantic. Tales that intrigue – without tormenting the reader’s brain.

WORDS aims to bring you new material by published professional writers, and also by accomplished and enthusiastic amateur storytellers... men and women of all ages, persuasions and walks of life.

Past issues have included writers of the calibre of Patrick Nicholson, Alanna David, S. Bee and others, many of them winners or shortlisted entrants from the prestigious Ian St. James Awards.

Each issue of this quarterly publication contains perhaps a dozen short stories compiled from entries to our competitions. Full details can be seen at
Even more heartening is the discovery that all work on the magazine is entirely voluntary and that all profit from this magazine goes to help in supporting the work of the RNLI – the charity that saves lives at sea!

Wednesday, 12 September 2018


Mull can mean to think ponderously or deeply. E.g. Patsy mulled over an idea for her next novel. I do a lot of mulling.

Alternatively it's a soft muslin fabric, a layer of humus, or the practice of heating liquid, usually wine, with spices to make a delicious warming drink.

There's a good reason for Mull being today's word of the week – it's the Scottish island in the inner Hebrides where the mobile writing retreat is currently located.

Monday, 10 September 2018

Here be monsters?

Thanks to Beatrice for alerting me to the Monster Micro Fiction Competition. Glory seems to be the only prize, but then they're only asking for 18 words and it looks like fun.

We've encountered various birds and beasts so far in our travels around Scotland. No monsters though, despite having sailed up and down Loch Ness. I'll keep looking ...

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Doing it my way

"What publishing path are you considering/did you take, and why?"

That's the optional question for this month's Insecure Writer's Support Group post. I started writing short stories which I hoped would be published in women's magazines. I did that because my creative writing tutor (June Hampson) told me too!

The process is very simple – write stories according to their guidelines and send them directly to the fiction editors (you can find all the guidelines and other useful information here). I was fortunate in that I already enjoyed reading that type of story and my own writing style was a fairly close fit. I've had a reasonable amount of success over the years and still write and submit short stories i the same way – and I enter some of the competitions I mention on this blog.

With my novels I first attempted to get signed by an agent, as I thought that's what you were supposed to do. Once I realised there were publishers you could submit to directly, I tried that too – and had some near misses. I also got encouraging results in novel writing competitions and eventually had my first novel published as the result of winning one. That was exciting – I did a book signing in Waterstones, did some radio interviews and some libraries stocked copies ...

Then the publisher went bust and I got the rights back. That was closely followed by changes in my personal circumstances which meant I began travelling much more. I decided to self publish the book, and then some others. This gives me the freedom and flexibility which currently suits me. Other than some short stories collections and a non-fiction book published through Alfie Dog Fiction, all my books are now self published and that situation will probably continue.

Saturday, 1 September 2018

On top of things

I've been a bit quiet online lately, as we're touring Scotland (yes, again). As we prefer the more remote places, internet access tends to be limited.

A few days ago we climbed up a mountain – something I've wanted to do for a long time. It was a fabulous, though exhausting, day.

We choose Ben Wyvis. That's it – right behind that rainbow – the evening before our climb.

Thankfully visibility was better the next morning.

Proper mountaineers might not think much of our efforts, but reaching the top (it's 1046 metres) was plenty challenging enough for me.

I look like I've climbed a mountain, don't I?

While I've been off travelling, friends have kept me supplied with information.

Thanks to Alyson for telling me about this free to enter writing competition. And to Beatrice for the details of this publication opportunity.

And of course to Gary for getting me up there.