The Writing Game – and What to Watch For

Image Credit:  Pixels/Pixabay. A HUGE thank you to my lovely guest authors in my new Chandler’s Ford Today series for their photos.


I’ll be sharing Part 1 of a major new Chandler’s Ford Today series called The Writing Game – and What to Watch For. The series will be packed with useful advice. It is particularly useful for new writers or those seeking publication. More experienced writers should find plenty of useful tips too. More on this in a moment but I wanted to give a big shout out to all of the lovely authors who are taking part in this.

Richard Hardie, Brenda H Sedgwick, Francesca Tyer, Teresa Bassett, and Maggie Farran for Part 1 – tonight’s post.

Dawn Kentish Knox, Gill James, Amanda Baber (aka Amanda Jones), Paula C Readman, and Amanda Huggins for Part 2 – next Friday’s post, appearing 31st July.

Jacci Gooding, Jennifer C Wilson, Val Penny, and Wendy H Jones for Part 3 – the following Friday’s post, appearing 7th August.

See the slideshow below. Do check out the posts, not just for the great advice given by everyone, but to discover for yourself what a wealth of talent there is here. The genres represented here cover such a wide range of writing – think romantic fiction to horror and so much in between too!

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You will gather from the above I am rather proud of this new series. Guilty, as charged! BUT this is the kind of series I would have lapped up when I was starting out as a writer. My guests and I all hope you find it useful and entertaining. Now to business!

Am pleased to share the link to my new CFT series – The Writing Game and What to Watch For. This is a three-parter and it’s the kind of post I would have lapped up when I was starting out as a writer.

Many thanks to the guest authors today and to the others who are taking part in the next two posts. Between us all, we have a wide range of experience in writing and cover a fantastic range of genres.

There is everything from YA fantasy to romantic comedy to horror. There’s flash fiction (I know, guess who!) to short stories to novelists. There are the traditionally published to those who have deliberately self published and have done a fantastic job doing so.

The tips and advice given here will be particularly useful for new writers or for those who have written for a while, but are now seeking advice about publication.

But, having said that, I’ve always found it to be true you learn so much from listening to or reading what other writers have to say so I’m sure there will be plenty of good “pickings” for more experienced writers too.

I very much look forward to sharing the next two posts on this topic. Today’s fab authors are #RichardHardie, #BrendaHSedgwick, #FrancescaTyer, #TeresaBassett, and #MaggieFarran.

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Am looking forward to sharing Part 1 of my new series on Chandler’s Ford Today tomorrow.

Called The Writing Game – and What to Watch For, I set guest authors three questions. These questions are:-

1. Which tip over the years has proved most useful to them?

2. What do they know now that, with hindsight, they wished they’d known when they started writing seriously?

3. What do you think a new author should most be wary about?

My guests have come up with fabulous answers to these and we all hope the three part series will provide a wealth of useful advice.

Naturally I answer the questions myself, one over the next three weeks, and share another Top Tip I’ve found invaluable over the years.

Guests come from Swanwick Writers’ Summer School, the Association of Christian Writers, Bridge House Publishing/Cafelit/Chapeltown, the world of self publishing, and some fantastic local (to me!) authors. Between us we cover a huge variety of genres including non-fiction.

Link up tomorrow. And a huge thank you to my guests for their great contributions and photos.

I’ve switched back to the old Facebook and lo and behold I can now add pictures! I was more disappointed not to have ANY responses to my Report a Problem comments to be honest. Still back to service as normal here. I’ll stick with the old school then! On a more positive note:-

Enjoyed the follow up Zoom creative writing workshop this afternoon (Wednesday 22nd July). Have a promising funny flash fiction tale from it so will work on that at some point as it needs some editing to sharpen it up. Both workshops have shown me new ideas for finding story ideas so will make good use of those I’m sure in time.

It has also been a while since I had to write something in ten minutes so it was good to get back to that kind of thing again. It keeps you on your writing toes which is always good.

And I really have loved the haiku exercise that was set so to finish for tonight…

When the midweek blues
Hit home always remember
Two days – it’s Friday!😊

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Am listening to the theme from Dick Barton Special Agent on Classic FM as I type this. I don’t remember the original series (though it is repeated every so often on Radio 4 Extra) but the music IS very evocative.

It was great fun choosing the music for the book trailer for FLTDBA. I went for Danse Macabre by Camille Saint-Saens as I saw it as quirky music for quirky fiction.

I’m currently drawing up a shortlist of suitable choices for Tripping the Flash Fantastic. Finding a piece that reflects either one specific mood of story OR has different moods within it which reflects the variety in the book is not always easy. But it is still great fun to try to do!

And of course it combines my two great loves – classical music and stories!😊I just need to find a way of somehow getting chocolate, prosecco, and a decent cup of tea into the mix!😆


My CFT series The Writing Game – and What to Watch For, which starts tomorrow, has a wealth of advice, especially for new writers or those who are seeking publication whether that is immediately or after having written for a number of years first.

I didn’t start out seeking publication myself. I wanted to prove to myself I could write and it was a long time before I actively sought to be published. I don’t regret doing that. I learned a lot. My ONLY regret with writing is not having started at all a lot sooner than I did.

One thing I could’ve added to this was be open to the types of writing you do. As I’ve mentioned before, it is how I discovered flash fiction. Also, taking part in writing exercises on Zoom this week, has reminded me of the importance of using different ways to trigger story ideas. You need to keep an open mind and to use things that are not immediately obvious story material. But it pays to look into different writing exercises and see what you can do with them. It’s fun too!

(I shall be writing more haiku for a start!).

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A writing exercise I took part in via a Zoom workshop today involved two objects (given from a list) and drafting a story about them. I’ve got a rough draft of a funny flash tale from that. Good fun to do.

It struck me that it was useful the list was set by someone else. There is a certain amount of the “you’ve got to get on with it then” syndrome here.

Could you scupper yourself by choosing your own objects? Possibly. The temptation would be to stick to the things you know you could write about. The whole point of the exercise is to make you think outside of the box and stretch yourself here.

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Fairytales With Bite – Quirky Characters

There are those who might feel that the reason I love quirky characters is because I am one! Hmm…

So what is it about quirky characters that appeals to me so much, both in terms of reading about them and writing them myself?

Humour – there’s usually a lot of humour, often irony, involved here. That appeals directly ever since I first came across irony in Pride and Prejudice which I read at secondary school many, many moons ago. That book was an eye opener for me in terms of how irony can be used (and the best kind is subtle with it too). It paved the way for me to appreciate more direct irony in the works of Terry Pratchett and P.G. Wodehouse, to name but two, later on

The Unexpected – The irony (!) here is you expect the unexpected from quirky characters. You’d be a bit disappointed to say the least if they didn’t come out with something. Often this is the pivoting point of the whole story too. What is fun is trying to guess what they come up with.

Memorable – You remember quirky characters. It’s why I’ve always loved Jo March in Little Women and George in The Famous Five. Again I wanted to find out what they could do and whether they could surpass what had gone before. It kept me reading! The trick for a writer is to achieve the same thing. It is also the challenge! What is it that makes your characters memorable?


This World and Others –

Elements of Worlds I Love to Pick Up On When Reading

In fantasy and science fiction, the created world can be a character in its own right. (The very name Mordor to me will always imply evil, for example). I don’t need to know the nuts and bolts of that created world. I just need to know what the main characters think of their world and that shows up in how they react to it.

The kind of information I do need is basic common sense stuff. If everyone in the world flies everywhere, how do they do it? What problems does that cause? How do they deal with traffic congestion at peak flying times (and I refuse to believe there isn’t any!)?

I needed to know in The Lord of the Rings that it was highly unusual for hobbits to go on adventures and they certainly weren’t considered as hero material by anyone one else in Middle Earth. I didn’t need to know the ins and outs of daily life as lived by a hobbit.

So what do you like to know when it comes to reading alien worlds? What does your reader know to know to make sense of the world you’re showing them?

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What Books Mean To Me

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It’s an absolute pleasure to share Part 1 of my latest series for Chandler’s Ford Today called What Books Mean To Me.

A big thank you to my fabulous guest authors for taking part, especially as I asked them which ONE book they would have to save above all others in the event of a disaster.

Come on, which author would only ever save ONE book?! Still at the end of the three part series I do get to answer that question myself.

The series also explores what reading means to us as readers and as writers. I’m very much looking forward to sharing the remaining two parts of this series.

And if the series gives you some ideas for presents for the book lovers in your life, even better! See it as a shopping list!

My featured authors include YA writers, children’s fiction writers, Scottish crime authors, flash fiction writers (not just me!), paranormal fiction, writers of women’s commercial fiction, and fantasy. Several of my guests wear more than one writing hat (do check them all out!) and some write short stories and flash fiction as well as novels. (Do check them out too!).

I hope you have as much joy in this series as I did in putting it together.

Image Credit: The library and books images are from the marvellous Pixabay. A huge thanks to my guests for supplying their images.

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I start a three part series on Chandler’s Ford Today called What Books Mean to Me. A big thank you to all of my guests who are taking part in this. It was great fun to put together.

I asked writer friends three questions:-

1. What is your favourite book and why?

2. What does reading mean to you?

3. How has reading helped you develop as a writer?

For Question 1, my guests could only pick one book and the deciding factor was it HAD to be the one above all others they would save in the event of a disaster.

Really looking forward to sharing the links over the next three weeks. I will say now there is a wonderful eclectic mix of books chosen too.

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Many thanks, everyone, for the congrats yesterday on the Slimming World result. Much appreciated.

Awful day today. Had no water for a few hours. Now you know what Murphy’s Law is at work here. The moment you know you can only flush the loo ONCE until the water is back on again, you suddenly find yourself keeping on wanting to go! Oh well…

Yes I do feel sorry for the engineers sorting things out. It wasn’t just our house, it seems to be a major part of my postcode area and just when people were coming home for the day too.

Not impressed with a certain water company’s Customer Services. Let’s just say that’s an hour of my life I won’t get back and I was cut off during one call just to add insult to injury so had to go through the queuing system again. Yes, I had to queue. The numbers on the website take you to Customer Services and that’s it. No direct quick response emergency number. That strikes me as odd to say the least.

I tell you, it’s a relief that I’m now about to turn to writing for the evening… I really DO want to escape into something creative and therapeutic! Writing can and does come into its own for enabling you to escape for a while. Bliss!

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The love of stories (of all lengths) is what drives most writers to want to come up with some of their own – and to keep going when there seems little point in doing so.

I should also add there is some fabulous non-fiction out there which uses fiction techniques very effectively to get their facts across without being in the remotest bit boring. So when book shopping, check out the fiction AND the non-fiction aisles!

I’ve used actual events to inspire flash fiction stories and plan to keep on doing so. There is a lot of history to be inspired by after all!

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Hope to draft some new flash fiction over the next week or so. I am almost there with another collection but would like to add a few new pieces to it.

Unless I’m entering a competition with a specific word count, I never know how long a piece is going to be until I’ve written it. Sometimes what I think will work well at 100 words actually works better at 50 or 250.

It’s always a case of getting the story right first, then worry about the word count. Where a story is better at a longer word count than what you might have envisaged, well there are always open competitions and flash fiction markets with longer word count requirements. There will be a suitable home!

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Ten things I love about flash:-

1. It is direct. No waffle whatsoever. (No room for words like whatsoever either!😀😀).
2. It can be set in any genre or time you want.
3. It has to be character led so if you like inventing people, this is for you!
4. There are so many categories within flash there is bound to be at least one to suit you.
5. There are more competitions and markets for flash fiction now.
6. It is ideal to read on a screen (which is handy when travelling and could be a good way to tempt in a reluctant reader).
7. The form is flexible too. I have written flash tales in acrostic form to name just one. (Yes, it can be done in poetic form too but some would rather keep poetry to poetry and prose to prose and that’s fair enough too. I have written the odd poetic flash fiction story but it’s not something I do often).
8. If you like showing character thoughts and attitudes, again this is a great vehicle for that. It isn’t for long conversations though!
9. The form forces you to focus on what is really important and only that goes in your story. There is no room for more.
10. If you want to find out how to edit, REALLY find out how to edit, then flash fiction is a good way to go!

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Fairytales With Bite –

What Triggered Your Love of Fairytales?

I have the nagging feeling I really should have asked this question a long time ago!

For me, the trigger for my life-long love of fairytales comes from The Reader’s Digest Collection of Fairytales which came in two volumes. Both are hefty hardbacks and you wouldn’t want to drop them on your foot! I loved the stories and beautiful illustrations. These books were given to me by my late parents. I still have the books. The spine on Volume 1 in particular has been bound up by tape! I’m probably going to leave the building long before these books do!

The stories are those collected by Perrault, the Brothers Grimm, as well as originals by Hans Christen Andersen etc. I remember the shock at discovering fairytales didn’t necessarily have to have happy endings when I first read The Little Mermaid.

My favourite overall fairytale is Cinderella. Mind, my first published story was A Helping Hand in Bridge House Publishing’s Alternative Renditions anthology.  I look at the Cinderella story from the viewpoint of the younger stepsister who is not best pleased with the fairy godmother turns up again.  Great fun to write and, being my first published story, it will always have a special place in my heart. I still love writing fairytales from different viewpoints. It’s good fun!

Looking at why you love stories can help inspire you write your own (and do so better!).

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This World and Others – What Books Mean To Me

I’m starting a new three part series on Chandler’s Ford Today called What Books Mean to Me. It has been a great joy putting this together and I hope you enjoy it.

What do books mean to your characters? Is their world a literate one or is the oral storytelling tradition the strongest influence? Are stories welcomed or do your characters have to stick strictly to the facts and imagination is discouraged, punished even?

Can your characters read any books they like or do they have to stick to an official list? Is there a secret underground world of books where banned items can be read?

Do your characters treasure books themselves or do they leave that to others? If so, why?

Attitudes to books and stories can reveal so much about characters and their world settings. There are stories to be written here – lots of them ideally!

Image Credit:  All images from Pixabay.  Captions over on CFT (as are the pictures of my guests this week).


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