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.

Wednesday, 24 July 2019


Subreption is the method of obtaining something by surprise or misrepresentation.

I've had quite a few twist ending stories published – do you think it's fair to say that I obtained those sales by subreption?

Misrepresentation won't help you win this short story competition, but writing something which surprises the judges might. The prize is $1,000.

Friday, 19 July 2019

Friday Freebie

Thanks to Sheila Crosby for bringing this free to enter novel writing competition to my attention.

 It's for women over forty, writing about a character over forty. I'm not eligible! Oh, OK, not because of my age, but because entrants must not previously have been published.

As I do qualify with regards to age, here are some pictures from my recent travels to show you the sort of thing your mc might be interested in.

The Friday Freebie will be back next week with The String Games, by Gail Aldwin.

Wednesday, 17 July 2019


An excursus is a detailed discussion of a particular point in a book, often placed in an appendix, or a digression in the narrative. It comes from 'excursion', which makes sense.

How do you feel about books which sometimes stray off the main point? Do you enjoy the excursion, or prefer to stay on track?

The photos are from one of our excursions in the van – I'm not digressing from the writing theme of this blog by posting them, as I'm writing a story set in this location.

If you won the $1,000 prize in this free to enter writing competition, you could afford a lovely excursion – where would you go?

Wednesday, 10 July 2019


Medicine can mean the science or practise of diagnosing and treating or preventing disease. It's also any drug or preparation used to treat disease – I think that's what most of us immediately think of when we hear the word. Medicine can also describe a spell or charm thought to cure disease.

Taking your medicine means to put up with something unpleasant, whereas having a dose of your own medicine means to endure something you've inflicted on others.

A medicine man is someone with powers of healing within themselves, rather than a dispenser of drugs. A medicine chest is any container which holds drugs or medication.

Herbal medicines are traditional remedies, some of which work extremely well. Next time you have a sore throat, try gargling with sage tea. Tastes awful, but does the trick. Talking of traditions, you might like this free to enter short story competition from On The Premises, which has that theme. First prize is $220.

Am I the only person who doesn't trust any medicine which tastes nice?

Friday, 5 July 2019

Sex and Clangers

Thanks to Beatrice Charles for passing on the details of this free to enter writing competition. The subject is sex and you can write fiction, non-fiction or poetry. They also welcome undefinable works. I think I've written some of those, but they're not sexy. The prize is £300 and publication.

I was going to wait to post this until I could think of a suitable illustration, but the closing date is coming up soon, so instead I'm going to share photos of Bagpuss and The Clangers, who I met recently in The Beaney, Canterbury. These are the real ones, used for filming.

Wednesday, 3 July 2019


Ongoing means in progress, under way, continuing, being worked on. I have a novel that's been ongoing for years and now looks as though it will be more than one book (the big project I mentioned last month).

The amount of work involved, and not knowing if it will be a success at the end of the process, was making me feel a little insecure. Thankfully several members of the Insecure Writer's Support Group did what they're there for and offered support and encouragement. Amongst the helpful suggestions was a common theme – just go for it, do a bit at a time and don't put obstacles in my way. Since then I've added more words and am feeling just a little less daunted.

Other meanings of ongoing are progressing, advancing and growing. The story is doing that, albeit slowly. They're the aspects I'll try to focus on, rather than how much more there is to do and what might happen when I eventually finish.

This ongoing competition from The Third Word asks for just 80 words, which can be a complete story, scene or extract from a longer work. I won once and that was with a novel extract.