Wednesday, 16 May 2018


To dissect is to cut into pieces. Often this means a plant or animal, for the purposes of examination, but cakes can be dissected to. The person carrying out the dissection is known as the dissector (or Patsy, in the cases of cakes).

Not all dissections are physical. the term can also be applied to analysing, criticising or studying in detail. For example a competition judge may have to dissect the entries in order to decide which is most deserving of a prize.

Perhaps you can work a dissection into your entry from one of these two short story competitions from Wordsmag? With themes of Christmas and Murder, it shouldn't be too difficult. Both are free to enter and have a first prize of £50.

Wednesday, 9 May 2018


Ekphrasis is a literary description or commentary on a piece of visual art. For example The Girl With The Pearl Earring is an ekphractic novel, inspired by Johannes Vemeer's painting of the same name.

I'm not sure if there's a word for art inspired by writing, but if there is, it might apply to the cover of my novel Paint Me A Picture. My talented husband Gary created it, using technical witchcraft and digital magic.

Thank you to Marion Clarke for telling me about the Ekphractic challenge, which is a free to enter poetry competition.

Each month, a new piece of artwork will be posted, to act as inspiration. There are two prizes, of $50 each – one awarded by the artist and one by Rattle's editor.

Have you ever used one kind of artwork to inspire another?

Monday, 7 May 2018

Help for struggling writers

The Creative Future Literary Awards are for "people who are under-represented in the literary world – those who find it difficult to access the literary world either because of mental health issues, disability, health or social circumstance." 

If you're eligible (more details of groups they consider to be under represented are listed on the website), you may submit either poetry or a short story and be in with a chance of a substantial cash prize along with professional writing help. The competition is free to enter. Donations are welcomed to allow it to remain so.

Sometimes this writing lark can feel like a bit of a struggle, but I'm aware that compared with the battles some people face, I really have it very easy. I must make more effort to count my blessings, rather than focus on a few little irritations.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018


Season often refers to a time of year. There are the obvious seasons of spring, summer, autumn and winter, and others such as holiday season, barbecue season and silly season (a slow news period, when insignificant events can become headlines news). 

To be influenced by the seasons is the behave seasonally or in a seasonal manner.

Animals are often said to be in season, which can either mean being ready to breed, or when it's considered acceptable to hunt them.

Season can also mean a proper or suitable time, a time devoted to a particular activity (cricket season), or to flavour food with seasoning. Historically 'the season' referred to the time of year devoted by the rich and upper claesses to social activities, in order to find someone equally rich and posh to marry.

If a person, or object is seasoned, it means they're not young, but generally in a good way. A seasoned writer will know to avoid some beginner mistakes, such as seasoning your work with too many adverbs, seasoned wood doesn't split when it's made into doorframe.

As it's the first Wednesday of the month, it's time for an Insecure Writer's Support Group post. This months optional question is – It's spring! Does this season inspire you to write more than others, or not?

Personally, not. Spring is my favourite season and it does inspire me to write, but also to get out in the garden, to travel, to take long walks, to laze in the sunshine reading a book. As a result, although I may be more inspired, I actually have less time for writing.

How about you? Do you write, or do anything else, according to the seasons?

Monday, 30 April 2018

Retreating west.

Thank you to Alyson Hilbourne for telling me about this free to enter flash fiction competition from Retreat West.

The task is to write up to 300 words using the photo as a prompt – that's the photo on the website, not the one I'm showing here, which of my retreat to the West Country.

The five best will be published on the website, with the author's bio. The winner will be decided by public vote and receive free entry into the site's quarterly competition, for which there's a £200 prize.

Friday, 27 April 2018

Just Back?

The Telegraph runs a weekly travel writing competition. They want 'feature articles' of 500 words. The prize is publication in The Daily Telegraph, plus £250 in the foreign currency of your choice. There's also an annual award of £1,000 for the article which is considered best overall.

Did I tell you about the time we went to Dunkirk and, in my search for wildflowers, accidentally wandered into a nuclear power station ... carrying a large camera, no ID and the sort of embarrassment over my almost non existent French which makes me look and sound guilty as soon as I say bonjour?

Wednesday, 25 April 2018


Sepia either means a dark, reddish brown colour, or the lighter and less red tone which was once the only option in photography, but which I was unable to recreate with my digital camera and computer. It's also the fluid secreted by a cuttlefish, the pigment prepared from that, or a drawing created using it.

Don't know about you, but I'd rather have colour at the press of a button, than squeeze a cuttlefish in the hope of monochrome.

Monday, 23 April 2018

Remastered words

Remastered words are looking for fantasy stories of no more than 5,000 words. It's OK to submit previously published work as long as it hasn't been produced in an audio format.

The top prize is £75, plus royalties on the resulting audio anthology. (To be honest, I didn't know audio anthologies were a thing until I discovered this competition, but now I do know, I want to be in one.)

I've written about witches – does that count as fantasy?

Friday, 20 April 2018

TSS Publishing

TSS Publishing are currently open to submissions. They're looking for short stories of between 2,000 and 4,000 words. They prefer literary fiction, but are open to other genres. Succesful authors can choose between a £20 payment, or a chapbook subscription.

They also run competitions. Unlike most of those I mention, these aren't free to enter. However they do have quite good cash prizes, so you may feel it's worth the gamble.

Do you ever enter competitions with an entry fee, or submit work to places which have a reading fee?