Thursday, 12 September 2019

Quick update

I recently presented a workshop for Nottingham Writers' Club, was shortlisted in a competition, and had a story published in The Weekly News.

The organisers of the competition I (and writing friend Sharon Boothroyd) were shortlisted for, are running another free to enter short story competition, with the them of murder. The prize is £50.

Wednesday, 11 September 2019


We're back home after ten weeks away in the campervan! (The photos are all of homes, or former homes, we saw on our travels.)

Here's a free to enter writing competition. Be sure to include your home address on the entry, so they know where to send the £100 prize, should you win.

The word home is usually used to mean the place where we live, but it can be used in a wider sense to mean the area, or even country we, or our family, originate from. It can mean our wider family and background, an institution, the end of a race, a position in sports and games ... It's where someone, or something, belongs.

To me, home means either the house, or the van, depending on which I'll be sleeping in that night. It's where Gary is, where I cook and eat, the place I read and write.

What does home mean to you?

Wednesday, 4 September 2019


"If you could pick one place in the world to sit and write your next story, where would it be and why?"

That's this month's optional Insecure Writer's Support Group question – and probably the easiest writing related question I've ever faced! I'd write it in R'ten, the mobile writing retreat. I do quite a lot of my writing in there as I'm fortunate to spend quite a lot of time travelling. It's especially helpful to be able to write in the location stories are set, both to get me in the mood and make research easy.

Do you find this question as easy to answer? If not, what question would you rather be asked?

Thursday, 29 August 2019

Wednesday, 21 August 2019


I really wanted 'grotesque zoomorphic corbels' as the word of the week, but as Gary pointed out, that's more than one word. Still, I can use them as the illustration, can't I? These are on the Castle Acre priory.

Something which is zoomorphic has, or represents, an animal form.

Thanks to Sharon Boothroyd for passing on the details of this free to enter poetry competition. It's open to UK residents only (dead or alive!) and there's a £100 prize. If you can work zoomorphic into your winning entry, I'll be really impressed!

Thursday, 15 August 2019


A lapidarium is a collection of carved masonry and gravestones. This one is at Coldingham Priory.

I hope you appreciate the lengths I go to in order to find you interesting words ... Coldingham is 409.8 miles from my home!

Saturday, 10 August 2019

Travelling writer

I'm doing my best to live up to my travelling writer nickname at the moment.

A few weeks ago I popped into the DC Thomson offices in Dundee, I'm currently doing a bit of island hopping (all the pictures were taken on the last one we visited – can you guess where we were?) and in a few weeks I'll be presenting a writing workshop in Nottingham (It's just £10 for four hours if booked in advance – be lovely to see you if you can make it.)

I'm even getting some writing done. Not much, but some.

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Lin, win and In(secure)

Has your writing ever taken you by surprise?

That's this month's Insecure Writer's Support Group question. (If you'd like to join the group you can do so here – but you don't have to be a member to join the discussion.)

My answer is YES! I don't think I could keep writing if that wasn't the case. When I start writing, I don't always know the direction the story or character's will take. I don't know if that story will sell, win a prize or be one of those which doesn't quite make it.

Competitions wins have surprised me – I had a poem performed in the House of Commons and a novel published as the result of winning competitions. As a result I'm always on the look out for free to enter competitions, such as this poetry one, which I regularly share on this blog.

The biggest surprise though has been the change to me as a writer. I started off 17 years ago, writing just for fun, imagining it to be a short term hobby I'd quickly abandon when a new enthusiasm took over (that's happened before). Today I'm a full time writer. I even present workshops to encourage other writers, such as this one in Nottingham next month.

Another thing which can surprise me is the English language. I'm always learning new words (which is why I post my regular word of the week). Today's is lin. A lin is a 'collection' of water – it can mean a pool above or below a waterfall, but is generally applied to the waterfall itself, or to a ravine through which water is forced, producing a torrent.

The photos are of The Lin of Dee (apparently Queen Victoria's favourite picnic spot) and The Black Lin (centre). On our current trip we've also seen The Lin of Quoiche and The Lin of Tummel (my favourite in terms of names). They're all in Scotland.

Friday, 2 August 2019

Friday Freebie

The winner of last week's Friday Freebie book is Celia!   Please contact Gail Aldwin with your postal address and she'll send The String Games in the next few days.

Here are some recent photos from our trip to Scotland.

Wednesday, 31 July 2019


Artificial is something made by people, rather than occurring naturally, especially that which is a copy of something natural (eg artificial sweetener).

Artificial can also be used to describe insincere or affected behaviour.

I'm not keen on things which are artificial or false – I much prefer the real deal.

Can you think of any examples where the artificial version is better than the natural one?

Thanks to Alyson for sending me the link to this free short story competition. The theme is Artificial Intelligence and the prize is £500.

There's still time to enter last week's Friday Freebie and win a signed copy of Gail Aldwin's The String Games.

Friday, 26 July 2019

Friday Freebie – The String Games by Gail Aldwin

Today’s Friday Freebie is The String Games by Gail Aldwin

About the author

Settled in Dorset since 2006, Gail Aldwin has lived in Australia, Papua New Guinea and Spain. Her work includes a collection of short fiction Paisley Shirt which was longlisted in the Saboteur Awards 2018. Gail’s poetry pamphlet adversaries/comrades (which is based on the theme of siblings) was published by Wordsmith_HQ in March 2019. Gail is currently working on a second novel called This Much I Know. It uses the voice of six-year-old Mikey to share his experience of living with his parents in south London. Leonard is a new arrival to the community with odd behaviours but Mikey gravitates towards him sensing his isolation. When vigilantes attack Leonard believing him to be a paedophile, everything in Mikey’s world changes.  

In 2017, Gail was awarded a residency at Brisons Veor to facilitate a period of time dedicated to new writing. She received a Mairi Hedderwick bursary to attend a never-to-be-forgotten writing retreat at Moniack Mhor, Scotland’s Creative Writing Centre in 2016. Examples of Gail’s poetry and short fiction can be found online at Words for theWild, Ink, Sweat & Tears, and Cabinet of Heed.

You can find Gail on Twitter and Facebook.

About the book

The String Games, Gail’s debut novel is published by Victorina Press and was written as part of creative writing studies with the University of South Wales. Sara Gethin, author of Not Thomas who endorsed the novel says:

This is a gripping novel, where Gail Aldwin skilfully explores the dynamics of a splintered family coping with a truly awful event, and sensitively explores the repercussions of a burden of guilt unfairly shouldered by a child. Aldwin delves into the murky world of teenage manipulation, questions what makes a bad mother and asks whether forgiveness for a horrific act is ever possible. An insightful, engaging novel, The String Games breaks the reader’s heart and leaves them turning the pages ever more quickly to get to the truth of what really happened.

Reviews include this one from book blogger Being Anne:
It’s ultimately a story of hope and forgiveness, fresh starts and new beginnings: it’s quite beautifully written and I enjoyed it very much.

I’m very grateful to my publisher Victorina Press for entering my novel into The People’s Book Prize. The String Games is now on the longlist and depends on public support to get to the next stage. The People’s Book Prize is a national award that finds and promotes new and undiscovered work. One of the the organisation’s aims is to work towards the complete eradication of illiteracy. This is something very important to me as, following years of working with parents and children to build their literacy skills, there is still a need in communities for further input. In this longlisting, I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect match: an opportunity to gain a wider readership for The String Games and support a cause close to my heart. The competition is decided by public votes so if you could spare a minute or two to vote for The String Games, this would make me very happy. 

To cast a vote for The String Games, go to the webpage.

The Blurb

When four-year-old Josh is abducted and murdered during a family holiday in France, Nim, aged ten, becomes an only child. To cope with the tragedy, Nim reinvents herself but continues to carry a burden of unresolved grief. As an adult she returns to France determined to find out more about the circumstances of Josh’s death. How will she deal with this new information and what are the implications for her future?

You can buy the book here. To try to win a signed copy, posted to anywhere in the world, simply leave a comment below by midnight on Wednesday. The winner will be announced next Friday.