Wednesday, 31 October 2018


A tassel is generally a tuft of wool, or other thread used as a decoration on cushions, scarves etc. Some plant heads or flowers are also refered to as tassels, if their stamens or other parts appear tassel like. Young sweetcorn cobs are an example.

A tassel can also refer to a piece of wood or stone supporting a joist or beam.

Jackie Sayle indulged in a spot of tasselling when she created my druid initiate*, as she tasselled yarn for the hair. She makes lots of brilliant knitted characters which she sells to raise money for a charity which helps people with cancer.

*originally a gnome, but she and her friends are converting.
Happy hallowe'en!

Monday, 29 October 2018

Whatever you like,

There's no theme for the current Writers' and Artists' Yearbook competition. Stories do have to be no more than 2,000 words, original and unpublished, but other than that you can do what you like. Entry is open to everyone and you have until mid February to come up with something. The prize is an Arvon course.

If you don't win, but fancy going on a residential writing course, you might like to consider this one.

I don't know about you, but I find the idea of writing about anything often leaves me thinking of nothing at all. I much prefer to have a theme, prompt or some kind of guidelines. If you're the same, then how about trying to combine the things in these photographs into a single story?

Friday, 26 October 2018

Lost and found

You only have until 2nd November to enter this competition from On The Premises (click 'more' to see the details) but they only want 50 words, so I reckon you can do it.

The theme is 'lost and found' and there's a $25 prize for first place, then $15 and $10.

When we were on the Island of Mull earlier this year, we found a camera card with photos of sunsets, taken over a year previously, on it. We posted details on social media hoping to trace the owner, but no luck. (These are my pictures, not from that card.)

Wednesday, 24 October 2018


Today's word of the week was suggested by Carolyn Henderson, after I used it in reply to a question she asked on Facebook – What does pumpkin taste like? My response was 'faintly vegetably'. That's about right, isn't it?

Vegetably means, of or relating to plants, reminiscent of vegetables, or with vegetative properties. I wonder what they are? That bit made me think of a caped swede (as opposed to Alexander Skarsgård who is sometimes a caped Swede and who I don't think of as often as you might imagine).

The word can also mean containing vegetables. Eg the beef pie was very vegetably, or with respect to vegetables.

My most recent book cover is rather vegetably, and the vegetables are pumpkins, so that all ties in very neatly and gives me an excuse to mention that Slightly Spooky Stories II is available now as a paperback or ebook and free to read if you have Kindle Unlimited.

Monday, 22 October 2018

Short dated

These free to enter competitions close fairly soon ...

This one from Servicescape is for a short story on any theme. The prize is $1,000.

This one offers a kickstart for novelists. The prize is £1,000 to help kickstart your writing, as well as advice and feedback.

Here's another novel writing competition with a £1,000 prize.

The A Story For Daniel competition asks for up to 500 words with a joyful or uplifting theme. The prize is £100.

The Society of Authors are behind this novel writing competition which has a £4,000 prize.

For this one you can enter scary poetry, or a short story. The winner will have their work made into a chapbook and recieve 60 copies, as well as gaining a small cash prize.

I found this tin of soup at the back of the cupboard. I'm sure it'll be fine ...

Friday, 19 October 2018

Travel writing reminder

There's still time to enter the Travel Expert Heritage writing competition. This offers not only a £100 prize, but also a great excuse for me to post more pictures from my latest trip.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018


An acanthus is a herbaceaous plant or shrub of the genus Acanthus. They have spiny leaves and tend to be big and noticeable. The kind of plant you'd describe as handsome, architectural or impressive, rather than pretty.

Talking of architecture, acanthus leaves are often the inspiration for stylized representations of plant life, often created from stone, used to decorate buildings, especially the tops of columns. Those can be called acanthus too.

Monday, 15 October 2018

Ghost stories

Thanks to Alyson Hilborne for passing on the details of this ghost story competition.

Entries should be set in a bookshop, 'thrill, chill and move' and be short enough to be read in less than 20 minutes.

The winner will get £100 and three runners will receive £100 worth of books, from the Petersfield bookshop. There is no entry fee.

I really must have a go at this one – not least because Petersfield is just up the road.

Talking of ghost stories, I've released a second collection of them.

As you can probably guess from the titles, the stories in Slightly Spooky Stories I and Slightly Spooky Stories II aren't all terrifyingly scary. Some are quite cheery, the kind of thing you might find in a woman's magazine (in fact some have been published in womags). A few are a bit darker. Quite a few don't even involve ghosts – but they do all have a spooky element.

I might create another collection of these stories – What would be a good cover image? (I don't want to spoil the surprise, but I can tell you I've already thought of a title.)

Friday, 12 October 2018

Uncommon wealth

Thanks to S Bee for telling me about the Commonwealth Writers short story prize.

To enter you must be a citizen of a commonwealth country. Entries of 2,000 to 5,000 words must be submitted by the 1st of November. There are regional prizes of £2,500 and the overall winner will get £5,000.

That's an unusually high prize for a free entry competition.

I've just returned from Scotland. That's a commonwealth country, so I feel totally justified in spamming you with a few of the many, many photos I took.

Thanks to Marion Clarke for an update on the monster flash fiction competition I mentioned recently. I wasn't sure if there was a prize. There is – £100 of book vouchers.

Wednesday, 10 October 2018


A hare is any member of the animal family Leporidae.

They can run really fast, which is why my second shot is a bit blurry! It's also the reason the lures used in dog racing are called hares. I'm not sure, but the fact these go round in circles might be why people who dash about all over the place are said to be haring around.

To be hare-brained is to act in a rash or wild manner.

Should you try to remain on good terms with both parties during a difficult situation, you may be described as running with the hare and hunting with the hounds.

The Hare and Hounds sounds to me like one of those pubs which looks all nice and traditional on the outside, then tries to sell you 'deconstructed' food and refuses to serve it on plates.

To start a hare can be to open up a lively discussion or to set something in motion.  Hmmm... what do you think about restaurant food you have to assemble yourself, or which is served in a shoe, on a bat, or wrapped in a nappy?

Wednesday, 3 October 2018


I've been so distracted by castles and mountains and wildlife and gardens and friends and cakes and things that I forgot to do an Insecure Writer's Support Group post, a Wednesday word of the week post and to mention a few free to enter writing competitions I've been given the details of.

I'll get back to proper postings soon. In the meantime, I'm attempting to distract you with some of the things which have distracted me ...