Wednesday, 27 February 2019


We all know what the word Christmas means – it's the celebration of the birth of Jesus. Christmas Day is 25th December, the twelve days of Christmas run from then until Epiphany, Christmas cake and Christmas pudding are both delicious breakfast foods, a Christmas card is a pretty picture sent to prove both you're not dead yet and that you don't hate the recipient.

A Christmas rose isn't a rose at all – it's a hellebore. They don't usually flower on Christmas Day, but do bloom soon after and are very pretty.

The true meaning of Christmas is far less clear. Mostly it seems to be a festival dedicated to spending money, overeating and getting stressed. Or maybe I'm just cynical and it has a more positive meaning for you?

Whatever your feelings about Christmas, if you can express them in a story you could enter the first of Wordsmag's 2019 short story competitions. These are free to enter and offer cash prizes. (I won the Christmas one last year.) If the festive season really annoys you, maybe you'll prefer the theme of the second competition?

Wednesday, 20 February 2019


A quid is one pound sterling, although the term is sometimes used to refer to other currencies. Historically it also referred to chewing tobacco. Eugh.

To make a quick quid is to earn some money in an easy manner, either honestly or otherwise. eg When Fred saw what John was up to he realised he could make a quick quid by promising to keep quiet.

To be quids in is to be in a position to profit from something, usually in a finacial manner, but it can refer to other benefits. eg Being the only taxi driver who owned snow chains meant Cheryl was quids in during the bad weather.

Anyone described as not the full quid isn't considered very bright.

Thanks to Alyson (whose support of this blog is beyond price) for passing on the details of this flash fiction competition. It's free to enter and the prizes are membership of The Writers' HQ and places on one day writing retreats (with alternatives if you can't attend). Reading the competition details I was startled when I saw the first mention of money as it was in quids, not dollars. Until then I was sure I was reading about a U.S. organisation.

I can remember when a quid could be folded and was considered proper money, not loose change – can you?

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Last day!

Today is your last opportunity to ask Alex for advice about breaking into writing non-fiction for magazines, and be in with a chance of winning one of his books. Entries after this date may still be charged at standard network rate but ...

I'm hoping to run more competitions on this blog. Would you enter if I did and what would you like to win?

Wednesday, 13 February 2019


I thought I knew what romance meant, so hadn't previously looked it up. According to my dictionary it's a feeling of excitement and mystery, most usually associated with love. Does that surprise you? It did me a little – not the excitement part so much as the mystery element, and it's not that these form part of the definition, but that they're all of it.

I've always thought of romance as being at least partly 'nice', pink and fluffy, sugar sweet. Maybe I've been romanticising the word? To romanticise (or romanticize) is to deal with, look at, or describe things in an idealised fashion or make them seem better or more appealing than they really are.

Romance can also mean feelings of excitement, mystery and remoteness associated with other things, such as the romance of travel, the wild or the sea.

If a person is romanced then they'll be the subject of actions intended to gain their love. If you're the one doing this then you're romancing the other party – good luck with that!

My latest collection Lots Of Love contains 25 short stories all connected in some way with love or romance.

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Help with writing non-fiction

Would you like to get personal advice from Alex Gazzola, an expert on breaking into the magazine non-fiction market, and be in with a chance to win one of his helpful books on the subject? As you're still reading I'm going to assume you do!

Taking part is simple – just put your question in a comment to this blog. Alex will be back on 1st of March with answers.

Alex is a journalist. author, editor, writing tutor, enthusiastic supporter of his writing friends and all round good egg. He runs a blog to help writers, especially new writers, of non-fiction to avoid making mistakes and improve their chances of success. He's also written two books on the subject (and lots of other interesting books). Alex knows what he's talking about – I've had more than one piece of non-fiction writing accepted for publication thanks to the help and encouragement he shares in these ways.

One of the people who've asked a question will be awarded their choice of either Alex Gazzola's book 50 Mistakes Beginner Writers Make or 50 More Mistakes Beginner Writers Make, which he'll post to them.

The rules!

1. Anyone may ask a question about breaking into non-fiction writing for magazines, by posting it as a comment to this post.

2. In order to be eligible to win the free book you must include your name with the question – don't supply your address yet.

3. The closing date for questions/entries is 19th February.

4. The answers and name of the winner will be posted on this blog on 1st March.

5. The winner of the book will be asked to supply a postal address for the book to be sent to. It will be dispatched shortly after that information is received.

Wednesday, 6 February 2019


A vote is an expression of your choice or decision, often via a ballot or show of hands. Whichever option or candidate gains the most support is said to have won the vote or to have been voted in.

On the other hand, a person or option can be voted down, or voted off, if the majority of votes show disapproval. Eg the biased judge was voted off the selection panel.

In some companies shareholders own voting stock, allowing them to vote at meetings. Voting with your feet is to express an opinion by your presence or absence.

Those who vote, or have the option to do so, are voters. Something which can be decided by a vote is votable.

It's Insecure Writer's Support Group time again. Each month writers share their insecurities and/or offer support to other writers who feel insecure. To join up, just click here and add your name.

Like most writers I sometimes feel insecure about my writing. Doubts that a story will sell, or be placed in a competition can hamper my attempts to get them written at times.

Currently I'm taking part in a writing challenge, which focusses solely on words written. It's like a less challenging version of NaNoWrMo. I'm doing it alongside editing and submitting – and finding it helpful. Even if I haven't achieved that day's target total, and despite still sometimes having doubts about the destiny of each piece of writing, entering a figure in the spreadsheet feels like progress (which it is).

What things have you tried to help you keep writing despite your insecurities – and did they work?

I'd like to give a vote of thanks to Carol Bevitt for passing on the details of this poetry competition. You'll need to be quick to enter, but it's free and you could win a £50 book token.

The winner of this drabble competition will be decided by votes and writers are encouraged to seek these via social media. That's not my favourite way to judge a competition, but as it's free to enter and there's a prize of £35 each month I decided to have a go. My entry is STORY 5. Will you vote for me so I'm not totally voteless?