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.



Facebook – General

Glad to say the presentation of prizes for the children’s poetry competition run by Chandler’s Ford Authors with the Hampshire Library service went well. The only regret was I couldn’t be there as the readings looked fun. A good reader adds so much to the text they read out and can bring it to life for people. On the way back from my trip at the weekend, a proud Granny was reading nonsense verse to her grandchild. Wonderful reading (and I think it was Edward Lear she was reading).

I read aloud (lessons in the church being the most obvious example) and also find it a useful thing to do when checking to see if my dialogue in my stories is as good as I thought it was! I don’t know what it is about reading out loud but it does show up where words don’t flow well, where your readers could trip up, and I also find it highlights where I could simplify what I’ve written (never a bad thing!).

You can't beat a good read and I would include Jane Austen in amongst the top of my list. Image via Pixabay.

You can’t beat a good read and reading aloud is a great way to literally hear if your dialogue is as it should be. Image via Pixabay.

Being a Drabbler…

Trying to catch up on some magazine reading. Pleased to send From Light to Dark and Back Again off as a prize today. Am working my way though future Chander’s Ford Today interviews. Hope to send these out to the right people in the next couple of weeks.

It was thanks to being at Swanwick Writers’ Summer School this year I found out my 100-word tales are known as “drabbles”. Like the term. It means I’m a drabbler! (Better than being a dribbler perhaps!).

A lot of my flash fiction ends up with a twist in the tale ending. I think this kind of thing ideal for flash as you don’t have room to expand much detail, every word must count, and you are looking to make an impact on the reader. A good twist in the tale achieves all of that in one hit!


Flash Fiction should leave an impact on the reader.  Image via Pixabay

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Sometimes a story can come from taking a proverb or a saying and expanding on it from the viewpoint of a character you wouldn’t usually come across.

In The Truth in From Light to Dark and Back Again I have an honest character give their view on something but the twist is who that character is. Making the Grade is an exam story but the character is probably not one you would particularly want to go to school with. So taking an ordinary situation but using an extraordinary character can be a great way of developing new stories.

Also, certain things like truth are open to interpretation so a writer can have fun here with their characters. One character’s truth is another’s lie, which can be a good source of a conflict and once you have a conflict, you have a potential story.


“Twist” characters can spark off all sorts of ideas for stories.  Image via Pixabay.


I love reading and writing quirky fiction (and flash fiction fits perfectly into this. Some of my characters are very quirky indeed (!) and their stories are ideal as short moments in time. A standard length short story would probably be too long to convey this or would dilute the quirkiness too much).

A lot of my tales are told from the first person perspective because it has the immediacy which is brilliant for flash fiction. My quirky characters like people to know where they’re coming from (even if you don’t like what they’re doing!).

I find knowing what my characters are like dictates how I present them. Some are best shown in the third person with us the readers looking in at what they are up to and others in the first person with us beside them as they get up to their various actions.

Great characters should show humour. Image via Pixabay.

I’m not the only one who loves quirky characters! Image via Pixabay.



Back from the wonderful Swanwick Writers’ Summer School, learned lots, caught up with old friends, made new ones, caught up with some writing (but never all I wanted to do!  This is always the way of it!).  Generally had fabulous time.  Even sold some copies of From Light to Dark and Back Again. 

I am planning to revamp my websites over the next few weeks so this becomes my main site with Fairytales With Bite and This World and Others incorporated into it.  I am planning to blog more regularly on here and less frequently on the others, but with links back to archive material.  Am hoping to become as full time a writer as possible given my circumstances.  Up until now definitely only part time but there is so much I would like to do and I need to increase my hours!


My theme tonight ties in with my Chandler’s Ford Today post also online this evening, which is about humour in fiction.  I think this is one of the hardest things to get right, given humour is so subjective.   In my post for FWB tonight Humour in Fiction, I talk about how important it is for humour to come from your characters and for it not to be something that is forced on them.  Humour has to ring “true”.  Also I discuss how humour and the various forms of it can be a good way to differentiate your characters for your readers.

Great characters should show humour. Image via Pixabay.

Great characters should show humour. Image via Pixabay.


In Using Humour I discuss what kind of humour your characters would come out with.  After all if you say someone has no sense of humour, doesn’t that give you an instant image of what person is likely to be like?  You may not be be right of course (though I think a lot of the time you would be!).  You can have a lot of fun developing the humour your characters would have.


My posts tonight are all based around my CFT article about Humorous Writing (and why it is a serious business)I use British English spelling incidentally.

I share some classic TV and audio clips of some of the finest comic writing I’ve loved and discuss why humorous writing is, I feel, the toughest aspect of writing to get right.  It is partly because humour is so subjective of course but also sometimes it doesn’t always “travel” well, either across countries or time or both.

Having said that, there are wonderful examples of humour that can manage this.  Am glad to say there have been some fantastic comments on this post already with great examples of unintentional newspaper headline humour too. Hope you enjoy.  I think I’ve found my favourite all time feature image for this one as well, thanks to Pixabay!  See what you think.

Humour can be shown in expression, writers must use words!  The right ones in the right way too!  Image via Pixabay.

Humour can be shown in expression, writers must use words! The right ones in the right way too! Image via Pixabay.



I talk about Character Relaxation being a way of showing your readers more about your characters.  What do they do as hobbies?  Are they obsessed by them?  How do they treat others who get in the way of their “down” time?  How do their hobbies relax them to cope with whatever quest you are sending them on?


Encouraging Creativity  ties in with my Chandler’s Ford Today post tonight given I talk about a poetry competition in that (more later).  Here I expand the topic to look at what we can do when we lose our spark and need to encourage our own creativity to come back!


I share news of a children’s poetry competition being organised by my local writing group, Chandler’s Ford Authors, in association with Hampshire Libraries and The Hiltingbury Extravaganza (a major fair in the area).  There are two age categories – 8 to 11 and 12 to 15 – and there will be prizes!  There will also be a presentation at our local library in September and it is hoped the winning poems will also go on to be published online by Chandler’s Ford Today.



I talk about my trip to Swanwick Writers’ Summer School.  Really looking forward to it and catching up with old friends again.  Also hope to make new ones!  Am planning to catch up on writing the follow up to From Light to Dark and Back Again.  Have got quite a bit of that written but would like to get a complete first draft done.


Feature Image - Children's Poetry Competition News








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


Why Read? was the obvous follow up post to write following Why Write? the other night!  (Though the thought of NOT reading is alien to me!).


Well, I did it!  In A to Z of Character Creation Part 9, I tackle the last three letters – X, Y and Z!  X=X-rated (in terms of causing trouble), Y = Young (how does your world treat them? and Z = Zest (zest for life.  Where does your character get this attitude from?).


Why Read looks at various reasons why you should read.  To read for pleasure is my top reason but to read for education, to find out more about the world is absolutely fine and your characters could read for those reasons too.


There’ll be few writers who won’t sympathize with my post tonight.  Is there any one who has NOT sent off a piece of work and then spotted errors in it afterwards?!



I look ahead to going to the Swanwick Summer Writers’ School. My flash fiction piece, George Changes HIs Mind, started life as a draft piece at the school last year and ended up in From Light to Dark and Back Again.  Would like to complete draft of follow up book while away.


A typical writing conference room. Image via Pixabay.

A typical writing conference room. Image via Pixabay.

The Hayes Conference Centre, Derbyshire.

The Hayes Conference Centre, Derbyshire.  Image taken by me.




In The Perfect Character, I point out there is no such thing!  What we as writers must do is create the character that is perfect for our purposes.  Does every aspect of the character create the picture we are intending to create?  Will the reader be convinced the character you’ve got carrying out Action X is actually capable of doing so?  In a longer piece of fiction, you often need to write several thousand words before you really know your characters but this is where the rewrite is your friend!  (And you can have as many of those as you like!).


Character Building explores what I think is one of the most fun aspects of writing fiction.  You get to create your own people and, unlike Doctor Frankenstein, remain in control of the whole process!  I start with the dominant trait of a character, work out whether they would get on well with others or not (and explore the reasons), whether they have a sense of humour or not (doesn’t that tell you so much about someone in itself?).  Funnily enough the physical description of a character is nearly always one of the last things Ii think about.


I share news of my book launch (8th July) which will be held at my local railway station. Debut authors makes tracks, anyone?



I met Jennifer C Wilson (author of the Kindred Spirit series) at the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School last August and got on really well – with Swanwick and with each other!  (We’ve already booked for this year’s Summer School!).  Jennifer kindly reviewed my book and I share the link to that, though I recommend having a good look at her blog.  Fascinating reading – and ideas for trips out in the Sunday Soujourn spot!  (And huge amounts of kudos to anyone who has managed to get Soujourn back into usage – it’s a lovely sounding word).



My debut flash fiction collection from Chapeltown Books

My debut flash fiction collection from Chapeltown Books





Welcome to the start of a new mini-series from me – Living in a Magical WorldPart I looks at a wide variety of pointers including the advisability (or otherwise) of showing off, where to buy magical equipment and to always beware of mysterious old ladies turning up, offering you bright red, shiny apples and the like.  For the visitor to the magical world, this information could be a life saver!  More tomorrow…


A longer post than normal from me to make up for being absent the last day or so!  Why I Write and What I love and loathe about it, again, is one of my titles that sums up the post.  What do you love and loathe about writing?  Comments welcome…


My latest Chandler’s Ford Today post is based on a writing exercise I was set at Swanwick Summer Writers’ School last year.  Advice to my 20-Year-Old Self shares what I would tell my younger self if I could.  The first thing I thought of was to lighten up!  What would you tell your younger self?


I’ve shared a couple of posts on here tonight.  One shares my thoughts on reviews.  See what you think.


In a second post, I share what I most like about writing stories.


Just a note to say the Kindle version of the book is currently at 99p but the price will be going up soon.  About 50 stories for under £1 – what a bargain!  AND you can have a free taster too as one of my 100 word stories in the book appears in the book trailer.



My debut flash fiction collection from Chapeltown Books



In Fairytale Proverbs I share what the magical world could have as some of its sensible sayings.  This includes “never cross a witch” (if you want to live) to “talking animals may well make more sense than you do” amongst others.


Life Lessons is my more serious post tonight in that I look at what lessons you characters have learned in their fictional life and how do these shape the way they act now.  I also ask about those characters who seemingly never do learn from their errors and wonder what it does take to bring them to their senses.  Also, experience should shape how a character acts and reacts.  Do yours react differently to the way they once might have done because they do know better now?


Am delighted to share the links here to some wonderful reviews for From Light to Dark and Back Again in both paperback and Kindle formats.

I’ve also created a specific page within my Fairytales with Bite website for the book, which I hope to copy across to This World and Others before too long. I share all relevant links here.

Am also pleased to say the book is now on Writing Magazine’s Subscriber Showcase spot.


I’ve booked my two “big” writing events for this year – Winchester Writers’ Festival in June and Swanwick Writers’ Summer School in August – and am looking forward to them both.  I discuss in my post tonight a little about what I get from events like this.


The wonderful world of stories... Image via Pixabay.

The wonderful world of stories… Image via Pixabay.




The Hayes Conference Centre, Derbyshire.



There are some jobs that the sensible would avoid at all costs.  One of these is being a magical book reviewer.  Tonight’s FWB post looks how a magical book reviewer might set about their task – and yes, carefully is one answer!


Spreading the Word discusses (briefly) the need that all authors have to do what they can in this regard.  I do take my own advice (!) and share news of the latest anthology my work appears in on my News page.  (The Best of Cafelit 5 published by Chapeltown Books and available in print and electronically.  There!   I’ve taken my own advice again – links on my website!).

From a fictional viewpoint, this post discusses how your characters might spread the word.  The post asks how technology has developed in your story worlds and, if it hasn’t, asks why not?  Is the media controlled in your settings?  Are stories still told in the oral tradition?  Answering these questions could trigger some really good stories.  (Orwell’s 1984 being the ultimate re the media control one I think).


I discuss what makes a good writing conference in tonight’s CFT post and share my thoughts based on my experience of attending the Winchester and Swanwick conferences.  I share some of my photos taken at Swanwick.  The conference there is held at The Hayes Conference Centre in Derbyshire.  The grounds are lovely and the accommodation very comfortable.  Only trouble?  I ate far too much when I was away there!   Still it is a nice trouble to have…and I certainly wasn’t the only one!


My FB author page tonight shares the link with my Chandler’s Ford Today post where I discuss good writing conferences.  I share what I have learned about what to look out for, based on my experience of the Winchester Writers’ Festival and, for the first time this year, the Swanwick Summer Writers’ School.  Hope the post helps those who are considering going to a conference for the first time.


One of the lakes at The Hayes Conference Centre, Derbyshire, which is home to the Swanwick Summer Writers' School.  Image taken by me this year.  Lovely place to walk around.

One of the lakes at The Hayes Conference Centre, Derbyshire, which is home to the Swanwick Summer Writers’ School. Image taken by me this year. Lovely place to walk around.


The lakes at the Hayes Conference Centre, Derbyshire. Home to the Swanwick Summer School. Image taken by me.



I don’t know about you but I have to have a shopping list when preparing for the weekly shop.  That’s fine for everyday stuff but what kind of things could you expect to see on a magical shopping list?  My post tonight has a lighthearted look at that.


I discuss having a to-do list in tonight’s post.  I find these really helpful for planning out what to write (and therefore how best to use what time I’ve got available that day) but I discuss whether characters could have their own version of this.  After all they do their have their own agendas in the story, haven’t they? I also ask whether a character that does have such a list is more scary than one that doesn’t.


On my author page tonight (link below), I finally get around to sharing some of my favourite images taken by me using my trusty phone camera of Swanwick Summer School.  Absolutely beautiful place. I discuss one reason why I love flash fiction and, theme for tonight or so it appears, why I like to-do lists.


The Hayes Conference Centre, Derbyshire - image taken by me. Stunning place.

The Hayes Conference Centre, Derbyshire – image taken by me. Stunning place.