Well, what IS your story? Image via Pixabay.

Judging, Guest Blogging and ACW Writers’ Days!

It has been a busy week!

Guest Blog Spot on Jennifer C Wilson’s Author Website

I first met Jennifer at Swanwick Writers’ Summer School in 2016 and we quickly became friends.  In 2017 we had the great joy of racing to the Swanwick Book Room to get our books in there!



The Lakeside Block at The Hayes Conference Centre where Swanwick is based.  Image by me.



The beautiful main building at The Hayes.  Image by me.

This is one of the huge joys of going to events like this.  Yes, you learn from the courses.  You may well make connections that will help  you with your writing career but the most important thing is to make friends.  Nobody but a fellow writer will quite understand what drives you to write.  Nobody but a fellow writer will sympathise with total  understanding when what seems like the millionth rejection has come into your inbox.

Jennifer writes paranormal historical fiction (I like to think of them as ghost stories with a twist!).  Her latest books are The Last Plantagenet, a novella available in e-book, and the second in her Kindred Spirits series called Royal Mile.  Her first book in this series, Tower of London, was about a hero we both love – Richard III!

So when Jennifer invited me to have a guest spot on her website, I was only too pleased to accept.  I talk about how I “fell” into flash fiction and share two new stories, which I hope will make it into my next collection.  Hope you enjoy the post and I am only too happy to recommend the Kindred Spirit series.  I am currently reading The Last Plantagenet – and loving what I’ve read so far!

A truly beautiful library but do the books in it meet my criteria for what makes a good story. I would hope so! Image via Pixabay.

A truly beautiful library but do the books in it meet my criteria for what makes a good story?  I would like my book in there (obviously) and Jennifer’s Kindred Spirit series amongst many, many others! Image via Pixabay.

Facebook – Southampton Writers’ Circle

I would like to say a big thanks to Geoff Parkes for sharing a wonderful picture from Wednesday night when I had the great joy of being back at the Southampton Writers’ Circle.

I was judging their Scroll Award competition for the best work produced that year and the winner was Angela Curtis for her non-fiction piece, My Pocket Rocket.

It was great to meet up with everyone again and the quality of work was high. I hope all who entered go on to submit their pieces. It would be lovely to hear later if some (ideally all!) end up being published – good luck, everyone.

This was an interesting contest as it meant non-fiction was being judged alongside fiction. As with this kind of competition, you can’t compare like with like (because they’re not!), I judged each piece based on how close they were to publication standard.  I also named suitable markets.  What was nice was that every piece has very good potential to be published and I would love to hear later that they do achieve that.



Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people sitting

I present Angela Curtis with her trophy and scroll.  Many thanks to Geoff Parkes of the Southampton Writers’ Circle for the photo.  Great image!  (Note to self:  I need to laugh like this more often!).


Facebook – Goodreads Author Programme

I have posted my second blog on here now and today I talked about what you read.  Many thanks to Paul Trembling for getting a short debate going on this.  More comments welcome.  I will be trying to post to this site once a week.  Do also send in questions to the Ask the Author spot as I love author Q&As and would be only too pleased to talk about books, writing, being published, flash fiction and so on.


Association of Christian Writers – Writers’ Day

Firstly I’ll share the link to my most recent post for the More than Writers blog page where I talk about the changing seasons and my take on autumn/fall.

Secondly, ACW had their annual London Writers’ Day on 7th October.  Our speakers were Glen and Emma Scrivener and the topics were God’s Story and Your Story.  Our venue was almost full, there was a real buzz from the Day and everyone was inspired by our speakers.  My FB post is below.

Had a wonderful time at the Association of Christian Writers’ Day in London today. Good venue, great speakers and there was a fantastic buzz too. (Always a good sign that!).

Really finding my smartphone so useful. Managed to do some reading and evaluating on the way home, which was great. I use Evernote to draft stories, remind myself of writing tasks and so on and am finding this incredibly useful. I’ve also used its camera function and then saved the file to Drive, Photos etc. (Ii am a great believer in the multiple back-up. I’ve been caught out in the past here – so help me, never again!).

Writing can be very therapeutic at times, if only because you are so busy working out what your characters are doing/going to do etc, you can’t really think too much about anything else. Am finding that useful too.

Well, what IS your story? Image via Pixabay.

Well, what IS your story? Image via Pixabay.


Never give up, work hard, be disciplined... all valuable traits for success, whether you're a tennis player, a writer or a character in a story! Image via Pixabay.


Facebook – General

Pleased to say I’ve been accepted onto the Goodreads Author Programme. I need to update my profile on there and download book cover images etc but hope to do this in the next day or so. There is scope for having an author Q&A on this (I LOVE author Q&As!) and I hope to have one in the not too distant future.

Am also looking forward to a local Book Fair at the end of October and will post more details nearer the time. Am also looking forward to joining the lovely people at the Southampton Writers’ Circle very soon as I will be judging their Scroll Award competition. (It was also good to catch up with a couple of said lovely people at Swanwick in August!).

Also looking forward to going to the Association of Christian Writers’ Day in London on 7th October. Always learn a lot from these. Incidentally, I think this is one reason why writing is good for your mental health. You are always trying to improve what you do and learning as a result. Great way of keeping the brain active.

Didn’t get anywhere in the recent flash fiction competition I entered but it means I have another story written for my second book. Nothing is wasted!

The magic of stories. Image via Pixabay

The magic of stories. Image via Pixabay

Shakespeare had his quill, modern writers have their laptops. Image via Pixabay.

Such a familiar look. Image via Pixabay.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I’ve recently found out that my tendency to write 100-word tales means I’m a drabbler, a writer of drabbles. That’s fine. The only problem with writing flash fiction is it does mean you are known as a flasher. On the whole, I think being a drabbler is better! There is a little more dignity to it!

Some of my flash stories are inspired by movies. The Haunting is inspired by The Ladykillers where the heroine is forever leaving her brolley behind and it is not until the end of the film we discover she has always hated it. Learning the Trade is inspired by Fantasia/The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (which is one of those Disney films I’ve only ever seen clips from and not the whole thing. Not deliberately on my part and I would love to see the whole film especially as the music that goes with it is fantastic).

Sometimes a film or a radio play can spark off ideas where your characters react differently to the ones you watched/heard originally. Interesting story ideas can come from that.

Books make wonderful gifts. Image via Pixabay.

Books are wonderful – whether in print or electronic, whether as audio stories or told by a storyteller. Image via Pixabay.

I could spend many a happy hour here - the library at Prague. Image via Pixabay.

I could spend many a happy hour here – the library at Prague. Image via Pixabay.





I think I’ve just written what will be one of my favourite posts for this site as it combines a review of a Doctor Who episode and talks about characterisation, two of my favourite things.  Convincing Characters reviews the recent episode of Doctor Who where the always brilliant David Suchet plays “the Landlord”, a character that is doing evil things but not for evil reasons (he’s actually trying to save someone he loves).  I then go on to discuss the importance of our characters being totally convincing with regard to their motivations.

David Suchet is totally convincing with regard to his performance (as he always is – from Lady Bracknell to Poirot!) but the writing of the Landlord character is simply brilliant and brings out the best in him, I feel.  The Landlord character, for me, is the definition of a character knowingly doing the wrong things but doing them out of desperation and, as a result, the character IS evil but sad with it.  I think most would see where the character was coming from and that is precisely what we all need to do with our characters.  Brilliant work all around.   Highly recommend seeing this.


Doing One’s Bit discusses character loyalties with one another and I use one of my favourite examples (Frodo Baggins and Sam Gamgee) to illustrate my point.  The Lord of the Rings is so realistic (despite being an epic fantasy!) for showing how the relationship between these two comes to breaking point thanks to the evil influence of that wretched ring.  I also ask what makes your characters stay loyal.  Have they known betrayal and are determined not to do that themselves perhaps?


Many thanks to all who shared the recent piece about From Light to Dark and Back Again in Writing Magazine – and a quick hello to all at Southampton Writers’ Circle too.  I discuss my recent review of A Comedy Trio (The Chameleon Theatre Group have put this on their website with permission – they liked it then!) and I am looking forward to hopefully getting to see more National Theatre Live, especially Shakespeare, as the year goes on.



I share an extract from some notes I wrote for the flash fiction workshop I gave to the Southampton Writers’ Circle earlier this year.  I discuss starting lines.  Hope you find it helpful.



Hercule Poirot via Pixabay

Hercule Poirot (based on the style of portrayal of David Suchet.  Image via Pixabay)




Weebly seem to be having technical issues so I can’t link to either of my sites tonight.  I can’t even get on to them to edit them!  Hopefully this will be put right for tomorrow.  Meanwhile I shall blog directly here instead. 

I have reported the issue to Weebly and they seem to be having a global issue at the moment on this so in some ways it is a relief to know it isn’t just me.  On the other hand, I feel sorry for their technical people having to get to the bottom of it all!


I discuss one of my great loves – radio – in tonight’s post called The Wonderful World of Radio.  I list my 1o favourite radio comedies.  I also share some of my favourite adaptions (there was a great ghost story about Henry VIII being haunted by Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour and Katherine Howard just to name one example).  I also talk about how radio was used in my late mother’s room when she was staying in a specialist dementia home to help make things seem more homely.  It worked beautifully!  Comments welcome via the CFT comments box as to what your favourite radio shows are.


Given the technical issues above, I thought I would write a short post here which could have gone on to either of my Weebly sites.

Reading Your Work Out

This came up as an idea to talk about following the flash fiction workshop I ran with Southampton Writers’ Circle this last week.  I set some exercises for this and joined in with them.  The great thing with this is we all went home with stories to work on and I hope mine will eventually end up in my follow up collection to From Light and Dark and Back Again.  I read my draft pieces out in the hope that it would encourage others to do so – and some did.  But I know some held back and I remember doing this myself years ago when I was first set exercises like this.  The thought that hammers through your mind is what you have drafted is total rubbish, it will sound silly etc etc.

What I tried to get across at the time, and will do so again here, is everybody’s first draft is “not great” (shall we say – I have heard ruder versions of this phrase, as I expect you have!).  But in many ways that is the whole point.  You are reacting with your “gut” to the challenge you have been set and you are getting your raw ideas down.  The polishing and tidying up must be a separate task and can come later.  So I would say never be afraid to read your work out because nobody is expecting it to be perfect.  Shakespeare’s first drafts weren’t perfect.  Dickens needed to edit.  Austen rewrote and rewrote.  We are in good company here!

What is useful in reading work out is hearing people’s reactions – the ones that escape as you are reading your story out, their instinctive reactions to your tale.  I found in reading my some of my published humorous pieces out, yes the humour did work where I thought it would.  With my drafts, I picked up on what went down well so I will bear this in mind when I edit these pieces.

Even if you’re not in a class, reading your work out loud to yourself is a good idea.  You will literally hear if you’ve got your dialogue (and the rhythm) right.  So give it a go!



My latest Chandler’s Ford Today post.  Images pour out of books into your imagination – and radio can achieve the same effect, which is one reason I love it so much.  Image via Pixabay.





I could spend many a happy hour here - the library at Prague. Image via Pixabay.


Apologies for the no-show yesterday – all due to the dreaded lurgy.  Feeling better than I did but definitely not ready for any decent singing sessions right now!  Yesterday it sounded as if I’d been on helium!


I take a humorous look at Fairytale PR Failures tonight and, amongst others, look at the failures of Cinderella’s fairy godmother and those authorities who thought it not worth mentioning their woods had a talking wolf in them with a penchant for dressing up in human clothes.  It doesn’t matter what world you live on, that behaviour is distinctly odd!


The Point of It All by contrast takes a serious look at self-evaluation. I share questions I think every writer serious about trying to get published should ask themselves.  Why?  Partly so you know what you are trying to achieve, but also so you are ready when others may ask the same or similar questions of you.  If you can think of questions to add, please comment!


Short post on here tonight so thought I would just repeat it here, rather than share the embed link.

The dreaded lurgy got me yesterday, so much so I sounded as if I’d been on helium for most of the day. Strongest thing I WAS on was tea!

To Southampton Writers’ Circle, whom I’m due to see tomorrow night to run a flash fiction workshop, I promise not to breathe all over you (!) but am glad to report voice is a lot better than yesterday so I won’t have to mime what I was intending to say! (Just as well really, I always was hopeless at charades).

To all who have had/are suffering from this wretched bug, get well soon!

Never give up, work hard, be disciplined... all valuable traits for success, whether you're a tennis player, a writer or a character in a story! Image via Pixabay.

Never give up, work hard, be disciplined… all valuable traits for success, whether you’re a tennis player, a writer or a character in a story! Image via Pixabay.

Books make wonderful gifts. Image via Pixabay.


Again many apologies for the no-show last night.  The bug that got me last week decided to put in a repeat appearance much to my annoyance!  Still, hopefully all gone now.


Awkward Questions can be fun to ask of yourself and your characters. In the case of the latter having someone ask them the questions that they didn’t want to be asked can be a great way of raising tension and guarantees conflict!  But the questions must be significant enough to have a real impact, the kind of impact that will turn your story on its head.  It also pays to ask yourself as a writer from time to time things like why am I writing this, is my meaning as clear as I think it is and so on.


Writing Goals discusses why I review my writing performance in the post-Christmas run-up to the New Year.  I also set some goals, some I know I won’t achieve in 12 months but I want to be well on my way to doing so in that time frame, which is the point of setting these!  Others I will achieve.  Other things happen that are unexpected bonuses.  But writing goals down is, I’ve found, a good way to ensure I’m in with a reasonable chance of achieving said goals.  I don’t really know why writing them down makes a difference.  All I know is it does and that’s enough for me.


My post this week shares the news of local YA author, Richard Hardie, whose books, Leap of Faith and Trouble with Swords, are being stocked by local independent bookshop, P&G Wells of Winchester.  It’s a real pleasure to promote a local writer and a local bookshop!


I discuss my upcoming Chandler’s Ford Today post and share a link to Southampton Writers’ Circle’s You Tube channel as they have kindly shared the Baubles trailer on this.  Thanks, everyone, and hopefully see you again in 2017.




You really do enter another world when you read.  Image via Pixabay





One of the best ways to escape is with a good book. Image via Pixabay.



What Not to Say to a Magical Being is full of advice to prevent magical disaster hitting you.  The temptation to let your mouth run riot when faced with a magical being who may or may not be past their prime must be resisted.  If you want to see the next hour that is…


Closing Lines is a follow-up post to yesterday’s Revealing Opening Lines.  A good closing line ends the story at an appropriate point, leaving you wanting more (but deep down you know the writer is right to finish there, anything else would be padding). I share an example of one of my closing lines.  In this particular case, it would also make a good opening line for a second story and I must look into that!  But that is often the way with a good closing line – it can give you the spark for a new tale.


I discuss tag verbs tonight, following a conversation I had via FB with another writer, Geoff Parkes from Southampton Writers’ Circle.  I share my approach to this.  For me, the golden rule is clarity.  If it is clear enough from context who is speaking, why bother with a tag verb?  Equally “he said/she said” is absolutely fine most of the time.  Comments welcome!


This statue reminds me of myself when I was a lot younger. Okay I wasn't made of stone (I'm still not!) but I did always have my head in a book. (And do so as often as I can now!). Image via Pixabay.

This statue reminds me of myself when I was a lot younger. Okay I wasn’t made of stone (I’m still not!) but I did always have my head in a book. (And do so as often as I can now!). Image via Pixabay.



The virtual library. These days ebooks and emagazines are available at libraries. Chandler's Ford library are running surgeries about them. Image via Pixabay.


It has been a wonderful writing week for me.  Firstly, I judged the Greensleeves annual short story competition run by the Southampton Writers’ Circle, who made me very welcome.  The stories were all great and all are capable of being published, following some further editing.  I prepared critiques for the stories and these went down well.  They’re planning on inviting me back!  This whole thing came about as a result of networking at the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School earlier this year.  Now I am not the world’s most natural “networker” so I am especially pleased about this.  I very much hope I will see the stories again, published, in due course.


Rules for Fairy Godmothers lists those do’s and do not’s every fairy godmother worthy of her wand must know.  There is everything from not zapping just because you can to not being surprised your client doesn’t do exactly as you tell them (none of them ever do).  Can you add to the list?  My own favourite here is rule 7.  What do you think?


Unreliable Characters are something I love in fiction and in the recent Greensleeves competition I was pleased to come across excellent examples of these.  In each of the stories, I guessed at the ending after reading the first page or so but am glad to report I was wrong in every single one of them!  I love stories and characters that misdirect me like this.  It is partly because they keep me reading to see if my guesses are right or not.  It is also because, just as in life you get unreliable people, fiction should reflect that too.


I update my News Pages on both websites every Friday with publication news and so on.  (Am conscious I should have mentioned this before!).


I’m delighted to say Alfie Dog Limited have accepted my short story, The Delivery, and this will be up on site in early December.  I plan to post more details and links nearer the time but am very pleased about another acceptance.


I’m glad to report my lovely editor has been updating author side bars and intros and now This World and Others is listed in mine.  Previously it had been just my main Fairytales with Bite website.  I’m looking forward to being able to add Author of From Light to Dark and Back Again,  my flash fiction collection currently being produced by Chapeltown Books, in due course.

Anyway tonight’s post shares events at my local library.  There will be a Books of 2016 discussion event and, separately, ebook and emagazine surgeries for those wanting to know more about these.   I hope all of these events go well and those going to them are both entertained and find them  useful.  My library recently linked up with a local school as part of the Story Shuffle Project, which is linked to the retelling of the legend of Sir Bevis of Hampton (Southampton’s legendary hero – think James Bond on tapestries, the very first comic book!!).




One joy of blogging is the ease of publication... Image via Pixabay



Flash Fiction Perks shares what I think are some of the advantages of flash fiction.  Can you add to the list?  (I do love a list… but then you will have gathered that by now).  Flash fiction can be a great way of writing humorous incidents which, in themselves, would not be nearly long enough to make a standard story.  And there are plenty of markets and competitions out there.  What’s not to like?


Fiction Feedback shares what I look for in a good story adjudication.  I know, I know – another list! – but I hope this might help those trying to decide whether to go for a critique on their work or not.  (And where you can get word of mouth recommendation from another writer as to how good Publication X’s feedback is, so much the better).


I had the great joy and privilege of judging the Greensleeves short story competition run by the Southampton Writers’ Circle this evening.  A huge thank you to all for the warm welcome and kind comments.  Look forward to seeing your stories in print in due course!!


Whether you write flash fiction or other kinds of story, brainstorming sessions are invaluable. I have, less often, used them to generate ideas for non-fiction work. Image via Pixabay.

Whether you write flash fiction or other kinds of story, brainstorming sessions are invaluable. I have, less often, used them to generate ideas for non-fiction work. Image via Pixabay.