A story inspired by an image

IMG_3032It pays to try new things. Every month, Writers Forum magazine runs a quick writing competition with a specific theme and a tight deadline. Ideal for motivating writers to submit, one would think, but until last month it’s passed me by.

February’s prompt was that month’s cover image which didn’t immediately fill me with inspiration but for some reason (stir crazy after all the bad weather?) I decided to give it a go. The result was Halfway to Hank a 500 word, runner-up place, which is published in the March magazine.

So 2020’s rather-belated resolution: keep trying something new!

Here’s Something New!

My story, Quality Time, recently won a short story competition run by Soundwork. The prize was to have it read by an actor and recorded for their site – and today it has appeared!

This is a first for me, and of course, I’m both delighted and grateful to have it in the public arena.

Having another voice bringing one’s words to life definitely adds a different and interesting dimension. You can listen to it here

The story won first prize in the Henshaw Press competition last year, and you can read it here

Many thanks to both organisations for choosing my work. The encouragement is inestimable. (The picture is of Miggy, the Soundwork cat…)

New Year, same resolutions

old-clock-face-1Following the shock of my story Quality Time winning the Henshaw competition last autumn (while away on an incredible road trip around Spain) I’ve suffered a bit of a dry spell in terms of output. The win was incredibly cheering, as were a couple of shortlistings for my piece: 1200 Thread Count in the Exeter Flash Fiction and Writer’s Bureau Flash competitions, but the motivation well ran dry.

So, it’s a relief to be knuckling down again at last and hoping, as usual, for inspiration and improvement in 2019. Just write something – anything!


Leicester Writes Short Story Prize

I was delighted to receive a highly commended in this year’s Leicester Writes short story competition and to be included in the anthology of long-listed and winning stories.
The book was launched on Saturday 30 June at the end of a great short story writer’s workshop held in Leicester. Very interesting and motivating – time to start thinking about next year’s entry?

The Power of Perseverance

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As a lonnnnggggggggg-time subscriber to Writing Magazine/Writers’ News, I’ve been mightily frustrated over the decades by the fact that, despite my best efforts, I’ve failed – yes, failed – to win a prize in any of their competitions. Okay, I’ve been short-listed (a whole three or four times), but other than that, zilch. (To be fair to them, I’ve by no means entered all their competitions.)

Anyway, the attitude I’d adopted was that sometimes, you just have to accept that your face – or your writing style – doesn’t fit. Certainly, some months, reading the winning submissions  I could see quite clearly why mine had missed out, but other times, well…

So, you could have slapped me with a wet haddock a few weeks ago when I received an email telling me that I’d come second in their 500 word short story competition – particularly as I recall thinking at the time of entering, “I don’t know why I’m bothering…”

Of course, I’m delighted, it’s great to see it in print (out this week!) and winning anything is always hugely encouraging. But actually, what really impressed me, having come second, was the attitude of the guy who came first (Dominic Bell). Apparently, so he says, he tries to enter almost all the Writing Magazine competitions to diversify his writing and actually finish something.  This is his third win, with three other placings.

Lesson to be learned there?

To Hull and Back

I’m really pleased to be amongst the longlisters in Chris Fielden’s To Hull and Back Humorous Short Story CompetitionI really appreciate the work Chris does to help and encourage how_to_write_a_short_story_front_cover_000other writers and love the fact that this is a competition for humorous short stories – probably the hardest of all to write, but wouldn’t it be great if there were more of them?

The competition continues to grow in popularity year on year; I’m already starting to think about next year’s entry…

By the way, Chris’s book: How to Write a Short Story, Get Published and Make Money is well worth a read. Helpfully, you can order a free taster PDF from his website – a great idea when there are so many ‘how to’ writing books about.



Remembering it’s a numbers game

This article Mistakes Writers Make When Submitting to Literary Magazines published on the Aerogramme Writers’ Studio site and republished from Carve magazine is a great reminder of all the things we know, but somehow, sometimes, choose to overlook.

The physical things – follow the guidelines, keep track of submissions, do your research, etc, are all useful stuff, but the one point that I found really worth remembering is:

Taking rejections too personally and not submitting enough

Even the most brilliant stories will get rejected, and as a writer, you have to come to terms with the fact that you will get (many) more no’s than yes’s. Sometimes your story may not be right for a particular issue, or may not connect with a particular editor. Don’t let the rejections get you down. In many ways, this is a numbers game, and the goal is to get the right piece to the right journal at the right time. That’s hard to do, and chances are it’s going to take a lot of submissions before you get an acceptance.

Oh yes! Intellectually I know that this is abthe-framework-1138288__180solutely true. So why does every rejection bring forth the thought: Well, I don’t know why I’m bothering – I may as well stop right now…?

In praise of writers’ circles

bridgendLast week I was delighted to be invited to a presentation evening in Bridgend where my story, Edna and Goliath had won first prize in the Bridgend Writers’ Circle annual open competition.

The group meet in the old Public Library building where the event was held. It was a delightful occasion attended by the mayor and also Jo Derrick, this year’s competition judge.

Meeting the group’s members underlined for me how much we aspiring writers owe to writers’ circles such as this – without their efforts there would be few competitions to enter and thus, little stimulus to keep writing and striving to improve.

Huge thanks to Bridgend and numerous others like them

New Anthology: Garage 54 & Other Stories

Garage 54 and Other Stories is a new anthology of short stories and poems from the Swansea and District Writers Circle. The pieces were chosen from those entered into their 2015 writing competitions. These original works are a range of genres and form an enjoyable mix to dip into as you choose.

I am delighted that my story The Absence of Something received a commendation in the 2015 short story competition and is included in the book.