Sunday, 30 December 2018

2018 / 2019

It's the time of year when we traditionally look back on the last twelve months and make plans for the next. I'm a traditional girl so ...

In 2018 Womag writing was a bit up and down. A big blow came when the owners of Woman's Weekly demanded all rights for any new stories. I consider this incredibly unfair. Other magazines have contracts allowing the publishers to use stories as often as they like and in any format, for no extra fee – yet still allow the authors to retain moral rights and reuse the stories themselves. I won't give up all rights to my work, so have lost my biggest market. The entire issue severely knocked my enthusiasm and for some time I didn't write anything.

There was good news though. I had my first ever publication in The People's Friend (then a couple more – and more will follow). I also made my first sale to In The Moment magazine. Thanks to a large backlist I actually sold more stories than I wrote this year!

More good news came in the form of several competition wins and placings – all of them from free to enter competitions I'd featured on this blog. My prizes included a book token, publication, certificates, signed books and cash.

I made very little progress on my novels, but I have put together several short story collections, including collaborating on this free one.

As well as writing I've been encouraging others to have a go, through my blogs, a Facebook group and writing workshops. I've also been trying to encourage people to read my books, by giving talks to a book club and at my local library. I'm delighted to have books stocked in several libraries as well as The Bookshop at Lee-on-the-Solent.

Most importantly I got to meet some lovely people; readers and writers who've been friends for years and those I'm just getting to know.

For 2019 I've already agreed to take part in a panel event as part of Portsmouth Bookfest and to tutor at the Hope Cove Writers' Workshop Weekend. Hopefully I'll be taking part in other events for readers and writers and meeting more interesting people. Perhaps the campervan will take me to you? I'll post details of any events on my website.

I'll still write and submit womag stories, but it won't form such a large part of my writing life – simply because the market is now too small to keep me fully occupied. I'll be entering more competitions, and of course will share the details here. There will be more books – and yes, I'll mention those too!

How about you? How was your writing year – and what plans do you have for 2019?

Friday, 21 December 2018

Happy winter solstice!

Wishing you a very happy winter solstice, season's greetings, festive felicitations, joyful New Year, wonderful time during anything and everything you celebrate, and lots of good things in 2019.

Future reading

The Roswell Award is a competition for sci-fi writers. Finalists will have their stories 'read dramatically' by a celebrity guest and get a certificate. There are also cash and special prizes on offer.

If you could have your work (in any genre) read or performed by someone famous, who would you choose?

I'm not famous (yet!) but I have done readings of my own work, and I've had some read and recorded by others. Really I prefer to just write and have it read silently, but I also want my stories to reach as many people as possible, so I might well do more of that kind of thing.

Wednesday, 19 December 2018


Seisin, which is sometimes written as seizin, is a legal term. It means the possession of land by freehold, the act of taking such possession and that which is held.

We're fortunate enough to own our own home, which I assume means that the land on which it stands and our garden is seisin, or we've seisinned it, or we were seisinning when we took out the mortgage, or something.

What I'm sure of is that the garden grows some lovely flowers. Here are a few examples.

Friday, 14 December 2018

Not the solution

Thanks to Alyson Hilbourne (who previously came second in one of their competitions) for telling me that Solutions Loans are running another free to enter short story contest. First prize is £200.

As you may have guessed, I'm a big fan of free to enter writing competitions. The same cannot be said of loan companies. If you find yourself in financial difficulties there are better (in my opinion) ways of dealing with the problem than accruing more debt at incredibly high interest rates. Please talk to your bank, if appropriate contact a charity or support organisation connected with your personal circumstances, or seek advice from somewhere such as Citizen's Advice.

Wednesday, 12 December 2018


A cento is a composition made from the quotations of other authors. I can imagine it might be quite fun to create, but that it would be rather disjointed to read – and quite possibly in breach of copyright.

Just in case you fancy a go, here's a quote from my book Leave Nothing But Footprints that I'm giving you permission to include in any cento you may decide to create.

"The action was frozen a split second before the water found its target."

I picked that because I think it could be used in various ways. That's not the case with the paragraph I got just from opening the book at random.

"As Jess made a pot of tea, Eliot said, "I'm going to impress you even more now by showing you the advantages of HDR." As he brought up five images taken inside a church they'd photographed earlier in the week, he explained that by combining over and under exposed images he could capture all the details in the shadows without burning out highlights in the better lit areas."

It's hard to see how you could use that in anything other than a work involving photography. You'd probably be able to leave out the campervan though.

Did you know a cento was a thing? Would you like to read or create one?

Friday, 7 December 2018

All to play for

Here's an interesting sounding competition for script writers. It's run by the Drip Action Theatre Company.

Plays of 30 to 40 minutes are invited. Eight of these will be performed as part of the Arundel Theatre Trail, earning the creator a £150 writer's fee. The very best one will also get a £250 award.

Do you enter any of the free competitions I blog about? I sometimes do – and I came joint third in the adult poetry category of this one, which I mentioned back in October. I'd forgotten about it until my certificate and book voucher arrived in the post yesterday.

Wednesday, 5 December 2018


Historically a host is a large number of people, or an army. In Christian religion it may be the consecrated bread used to represent the body of Jesus, or the heavenly host may refer to angels or perhaps other bible figures – although the heavenly host can also be used to mean the sun, moon and stars.

A host might be a person who has recieved a donated organ, or any living organism which carries a parasite or disease. The landord of a pub, compere of an event, or person who invites others into their home could all be described as hosts.

This week I'm co-hosting the Insecure Writer's Support Group along with J.H.Moncrief, Tonja Drecker, Chrys Fey and of course our Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh. This organisation exists to support insecure writers (as you may have guessed!). This is done through blog posts on the first Wednesday of each month, where members share their anxieties, offer tips only avoiding such concerns and offer encouragement to those who are feeling insecure.

There's also a Facebook group, website and twitter account, so there's always someone available should you wish to ask a question, or recieve (or offer of course!) a word of reassurance.

To join, just click here and add yourself. It's free and all you're committed to is a posting once a month (you can drop out temporarily or leave completely any time.) There's an optional suggested question each time, so no need to worry about being stuck for a topic.

Have you hosted anything? Are you an insecure writer? Are you a member of, or considering joining the IWSG?

Oh, by the way (she drops casually into the conversation) would you like to download this short ebook myself and three friends have created? It's free!

Monday, 3 December 2018

Tiny books

Third Word Press have an ongoing, free to enter, writing competition. Each fortnight there's a chance to win £20 for an 80 word piece of writing. It may be a complete story or extract from a longer work.

The best pieces will be made into a tiny book, which will be sold to raise money for the homeless (a little like the Big Issue, but these are teeny). I have a piece in their last book, and hope to get into the next.

I found this stone, partly hidden under some heather, when we climbed up the hill in Ullapool.

Isn't the painting of the tiny book lovely? I was seriously tempted to keep it, but eventually hid it again for someone else to discover. I hope they enjoy the surprise as much as I did.