Back to Earth, Special Moments for Writers, and Publication News

Publication News

My story, The Delivery, is now up on Cafelit. It looks at what can happen when you fall foul of the old boss and not just any old boss, come to that. Hope you enjoy. It was good fun to write!

brown envelopes in mail box

The Delivery! Photo by on

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

My CFT post this week was a real labour of love. (They all are but this one is particularly so). I get to talk about Swanwick Writers’ Summer School! I also look at why seeking to develop and feeding your mind is so important to a writer.

The lovely thing is you feed your mind through fabulous things like reading and interacting with your fellow writers! The best forms of development should be fun (otherwise you won’t stick with them, will you?).

Image Credit:  All Swanwick images taken by Allison Symes, except those of me reading at the Prose Open Mic Night. A huge thank you to Penny Blackburn for those. Captions as ever on the CFT post. (Also it was great to include here a photo of Jennifer C Wilson of the Kindred Spirits series at her Social Media for Writers talk at Swanwick, which rightly was very well received).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Tough questions to answer:-

1. Why does time drag when doing anything boring yet flies by when you’re enjoying your writing and/or reading? The latter is when I want time to slow down, thank you. I wish there was a way we could control these things.

2. Why do you run out of paper and/or printer ink half way through printing a MSS you want to work on? Why can it never be at a convenient moment? I’ve lost count of the times I’ve had to re-run a significant portion of a MSS because I went and did something else during the printing, only to come back and go “argh” (or swear, much depends on my mood!), as I discover the last 30% or so is not readable.

3. Why are there either loads of writing competitions you want to go in for because you know you can meet the brief or none at all when you could do with them? You either have the dilemma of working out what you can do in the time and miss out on entering some because you know you can’t do them all, or have nothing to submit to, and neither is good!

Special moments for writers:-

1. Finishing first story/article/book. Just getting to the end is a huge achievement. Well done! (Many say they will write, many will start, not all will see it through and complete the work).

2. First rejection. I know it sounds odd but it is proof you are getting work out there. Also, all writers get them. You’re not going to avoid this (so it’s best to face up to this and remember it is never, ever personal). This is where it can be helpful to have a couple of pieces of work out there at any one time. There is always something then that might do better.

3. First publication.

4. First writing conference (and knowing you fit right in!).

5. First acceptance of a previously rejected piece of work. You’ve looked at the piece again, edited it again, and send it to another competition or market. They take it. I believe no writing is ever wasted. So what might be rejected now might, with more work, be accepted somewhere else later.

6. Discovering new competitions/markets to submit to – this is fun!

7. First review of something you’ve written (on the assumption it is a good one).

8. First shortlisting in a competition.

9. First book signing.

10. First taking part in a book fair etc with other writers. (Okay, getting sales is another matter but it is good experience and usually fun too. They can be great opportunities to engage with readers. I’ve nearly always found, after an event, my Kindle sales have gone up even if I didn’t sell many paperbacks).

Can you think of others to add to this list? I’ve treasured all of the above (and still do).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Delighted to have my story, The Delivery, up on Cafelit today. Hope you enjoy.

Will be out and about over the weekend so hope to get more work drafted while travelling. It’s a great use of time!


red mail box

See the link to post in The Delivery. Photo by Lisa Fotios on


Which writing exercise do you find the most difficult?

For me, I think it is where you have to put a certain line in the middle of a story. I have written these but not often as I much prefer an opening line or a closing one.

With closing lines, I will “outline backwards” before writing the story up to make sure I get to the required line in a way that makes sense. Once I’ve got my outline I will look to see if I can improve on my initial thoughts. I nearly always can and then when happy with the outline, I write the story up.

But with a middle line, I’ve found the temptation is to cut the story into two halves. The problem with that is it may well come across to the reader as a story of two halves, which is not what you really want. So the trick there is to ensure you can’t see the join, as the wonderful Eric Morecambe so often said to the equally wonderful Ernie Wise!

What is your favourite writing exercise?

I love them all but I think for me it has to be the opening line. Why? Because a promising opening line can take you in all kinds of directions and that’s very addictive!

Usually with this I jot down a few thoughts as to where the story could go and then pick the one I like most and away I write. I do look at the ones I discarded again later and occasionally pick up on another one or two on the list. Why only occasionally?

Because inevitably those at the top of my list are the “obvious” ideas and while there is nothing wrong with them, a competition judge will have seen them all before. You want your own take on the theme that has been set which still meets that theme. You have to dig deep to find the gold.

One wonderful idea that came from Swanwick was to write down your first ten ideas. Having to come up with ten forces you to think more deeply (and laterally) about the topic and that is never a bad thing. And this can be applied to whatever kind of writing exercise or prompt you use too.

Fairytales with Bite –

Top Tips for the Aspiring Character

You are a character who wants to come to life on your creator’s page but they’re umming and ahhing about whether you are really the character they want to lead what they laughingly call their story. It is your story, naturally. They just haven’t realised it yet. So what can be done to make your writer give you your proper place in the tale?  Top tips include:-

1.  Ensure your personality is strong enough. Don’t be a doormat. Doormats not only get trodden on but, far worse, they’re forgotten. That must not happen to you.

2.  You must have good turns of phrase so your conversation is unforgettable too. If you can be witty and come out with appropriate one-liners, so much the better. Readers remember those. Your writer should remember that.

3.  Are you prepared for adventure? Are you happy for your writer to drop you right in it, several times if need be and usually from a great height? Yes? Good! They can do what they like with you then and they will like that.

Good luck! (And tell your writer to get a move on and get you in the story).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This World and Others – Back to Earth

I had a wonderful week at the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School and now it is back down to earth once more. I share a little of what it is like at Swanwick on my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week. I do think you need at least a week to get over a holiday, wonderful writing school or what have you.

How do your characters react when they have to come back to reality after their adventures? Most of the time we don’t find out of course because the story stops when the adventure does. One thing I love about The Lord of the Rings is it does show that things are never the same again, particularly for Frodo, when he finally returns to Middle Earth. I won’t say more than that but I thought this part of the story is realistically done. Frodo would be affected by all that he has gone through.

All stories should show that your characters (especially your main one) have changed in some way, otherwise there is no story. Changes can be positive or negative. Now I must admit I generally prefer positive changes but there is a place for the opposite. What would work best for your character and story?



Well, what IS your story? Image via Pixabay.


I usually use the title of my Fairytales with Bite piece for the title for this but not for this one.  I hope Writing to a Deadline – the Advantages gives some useful advice on why it is a really good idea to get into the habit of doing this.


More Fairytale Classified Adverts follows on from yesterday’s post with fun suggestions of what could be in the magical world’s advert columns.


Writing to a Deadline – The Advantages gives 5 reasons and details as to why I think imposing a deadline on yourself if necessary is a good idea.  To name one reason here I have found it helps me write much more than I used to do because I plan out what I write (to ensure I meet the deadline).  Because I write more, I have more material to submit to competitions and so on.  See what you think anyway.


I share links to Alfie Dog where my recent short story, The Delivery, is now on site.  At 39p a download, it is a cheap way of trying out different authors’ works though it will come as no surprise when I say I’ve linked to my author page here!!

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

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



I write fairytales with bite as flash fiction and short stories in particular. Image via Pixabay.


It has been a very busy but productive week.  From going to the Bridge House/Cafelit joint book launch last Saturday to having another story, The Delivery, appearing on Alfie Dog on Monday to tonight’s labour of love which is my Chandler’s Ford Today post, it has been a good week.  (And that was despite me coming down with a bug on Wednesday night!).


Fairytale Classified Adverts shares a few examples of how I imagine these could look like.  Hope you like them.


Musical Imagery ties in with my CFT post this week but for this page, I focus on what music means to your characters, what are their important songs and so on.


I share the link with my author page here.  I now have 5 stories on Alfie Dog.  The latest, put up on Monday, is The Delivery and tells the tale of a former favoured servant of the Dark Lord who has fallen out with the boss and is now facing the consequences.  I loved writing this.  Alfie Dog charges a small fee per download and there are a wide variety of authors and genres to choose from, including yours truly.  If you love your short stories, you should check this site out (and I would say that if I wasn’t on it, honestly!  In fairness, I did check it for a long time before I submitted work here.  And naturally it took time for me to get my work to a good enough standard to be accepted so it means a lot to me to be on here.  I’m sure everyone else on here would feel similarly).


Bridge House have set up Facebook page for Baubles, this year’s anthology.  On their blog spot, they are putting up for the 24 days from the beginning of December to Christmas Eve, extracts from the 24 stories in Baubles.  I was on day 7.

And last but definitely not least:-


I loved writing the classical music greats article a little while ago but found there were so many pieces I had to leave out.  Most of these were film scores so waste not, want not – another post was born!  Tonight’s What’s Your Favourite Film Theme? My Top Ten continues my habit of having titles that tell you all you need to know (!) and I hope generates a good response as the classical music piece did.  There were a good few replies with clips of favourite classical music and I hope for a similar contribution to tonight’s post.  Contributions of your favourite film music would be very welcome!

Tonight's CFT post.  Image by Pixabay.  Editing on Pic Monkey.

Tonight’s CFT post. Image by Pixabay. Editing on Pic Monkey.







Says it all really. Image via Pixabay.



The Delivery shares news of my latest short story to appear on Alfie Dog (Fiction).  The link takes you to my Writer’s Notes page, where there is a brief interview with me and a list of the stories I have on Alfie Dog.  The Delivery is about a favoured servant of the Dark Lord, who has fallen out of favour.  Not a good place to be…

I also talk about how vital it is writers do deliver on their stories, whether it is getting them in for a competition or what have you.  If your story is humorous, is it still funny when you review it just prior to sending it off?  Likewise if it is horror, is the tale scary?  This is where having a writing buddy (ideally one who writes in a format/genre different to your own) can be invaluable.  Equally if you’re entering a competition and they offer feedback, then seriously consider going for this.  I’ve always found this kind of feedback helpful.


Guest Blogging talks about some of the advantages of doing this.  This came about as my recent Story Structure post on This World and Others has been shared with my blessing by Valerie Penny on her marvellous book review site.  Valerie’s site reviews some prestigous books and gives good writing advice so I am flattered she wanted to share this post.  I met Valerie at Swanwick earlier this year. Indeed she took pity on a lost looking soul (me!) arriving at Derby Railway Station and looking around wildly for where the Swanwick coach might be parked up!


It has been a busy writing day as the two notes above show.  My post on FB tonight again shares the news and the links.  Am very pleased with Valerie’s sharing of my post and the new story on Alfie Dog.

I thought I would share my feature image from this week’s Chandler’s Ford Today post as I think I can safely say, with all the positive things that have happened recently, I’ve travelled a few more miles up the writing road this week!  (Important thing is never to end up in a cul-de-sac though!).

My Chandler's Ford Today post for this week looks at where I am at currently on my writing journey, Image via Pixabay.

My Chandler’s Ford Today post for this week looks at where I am at currently on my writing journey, Image via Pixabay.