Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Making plans

"In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself five years from now, and what’s your plan to get there?" That's this month's Insecure Writer's Support Group question.

I'm going to answer by going back in time to when I first learned I might be offered a redundancy package from my last job. At the time I thought very carefully about the future and decided I wanted to write full-time. 

I felt that with more writing time I probably could sell more stories to magazines, but knew that alone wouldn't be enough. I'd need to sell articles and books too. Again I was confident about the writing part, but less sure I'd find buyers. I took the risk.

Back then I'd had one novel and around 200 stories published, plus won a few competitions, in the ten years I'd been writing. That was four years ago. 

Now my story sales are more than double that, I've sold numerous articles on writing, won or been placed in competitions and published three more novels, four story collections and co-authored a book on writing. I am a full-time writer.

Mostly I'm telling you all this to brag and hopefully convince you to buy the book. But partly it's to prove that if we know what we hope to achieve, work out how we might get there and then work hard to make it a reality, there is the possibility of success.

Back to the original question - "In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself five years from now, and what’s your plan to get there?"

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

To a friend

The Keats-Shelley Prize offers a share of £4,000 for the winning poems on the theme of 'to a Friend'.

I was tempted to illustrate this post with photos of some of my writing friends, but I didn't want to leave anyone out. Instead, here I am raising a glass to all of you.

Monday, 5 December 2016

Writing for free?

Recently I've had a few queries on this subject and I know opinions vary. I've changed my own mind more than once. Please share you current feelings about any of the following –

Is it a good idea for newer writers to build up confidence and credits by submitting to non paying markets? And if so, at what point should they move on to paying markets?

Is giving away a free ebook (like this one) a sensible way to attract readers for your other books?

Are writers who work for free doing a diservice to those who hope to get paid?

Are you in favour of anthologies published to raise money for charities?

Do you think any non financial rewards for publication are worth having?

What about token payments? Are they fine as it's the principle which matters, or do you find them insulting?

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Easy to swallow

Unless you live outside the UK, Channel Islands or Ireland, I don't want to hear any excuses for not entering this competition from Reader's Digest.

You have until 20th February to write 100 words and the prize is £2,000.

You're allowed to enter more than once, but I'm not insisting you do.

ps If you're interested in how I came to co-author a book about writing, take a look at this interview.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

The same difference

The W&AYB annual short story competition again offers an Arvon course as the prize. Unusually there's no theme this year.

Do you prefer competitions with or without a theme?

I like themes as they encourage me to write something new, rather than dust off something which has been hanging around gathering rejection slips.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016


Whee! is an expression of delight. The exclamation mark isn't compulsory, but I feel it's justified.

Whee! is the sort of thing a person might say either because it was the launch day of their first ever co-written non-fiction book, or to show how thrilled they are to have purchased a copy of the rather excellent From Story Idea to Reader. (Wheeeeeeee! is what you squeal when being spun round on a children's roundabout in the park after a celebratory glass of something bubbly. Apparently.)

From Story Idea to Reader is available from Amazon as a paperback (£9.99) or ebook (£3.99). If you'd like it in a different format, such as pdf, you can obtain them direct from the publisher.

For a full list of contents, click here.

Monday, 28 November 2016

I'm rooting for you.

Thanks to Tracy Fells for bringing this free to enter, weekly flash fiction competition to my attention.

There's a new prompt each week and the winners of the best 150 word story get free entry into the Bath Flash Fiction competition, which offers a £1,000 prize.

Sunday, 27 November 2016


The current competition from Words Mag, has the theme of 'murder'. You have until the end of the year to submit your entry which can be up to 2,000 words long. First prize is £50.

I don't know for sure that anyone has ever been murdered in this castle, but it's possible. What do you think?

Friday, 25 November 2016

A bright flash

Brilliant Flash Fiction have a quarterly competition which is free to enter and offers a cash prize. The theme for the current one, which closes on the 15th of January, is 'Aftermath'. The top prize is €50 and the word limit 500.

You may also submit stories of up to 1,000 words, but no payment is offered for those.