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National Flash Fiction Day

June 25th, 2021

First, thanks to Pamela for last week’s post. I know exactly where she’s coming from because I have a ‘water compulsion’ too. I love going to the seaside, whatever the weather. One of my favourite trips to Dunstanburgh Castle in Northumberland was accompanied by black clouds, raging seas and rain. Where I live, we’re surrounded by high moorland reservoirs – one of them even has a sandy ‘beach’ – and a network of canals; so local walks usually involve water! I can’t think of anything more inspirational or relaxing.

Perhaps there are more of us than you would think – or how else to explain the popularity of The Salt Path by Raynor Winn which was on the Sunday Times best-seller list for 80 weeks. And if you want a really raw read then try Where the World Ends by Geraldine McCaughrean. It’s the story of a group of boys and men stranded on a remote sea-stack in the early 1700s while their home island of Hirta was ravaged by smallpox. Read the rest of this entry »




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Block-v-Indented Paragraphs

May 11th, 2021

There are two paragraphing styles that you need to be aware of – block and indented – and many new writers wonder about which they should use.

Block paragraphing has a blank line separating the last line of the previous paragraph and the first line of the new paragraph. Each paragraph is a block of text on the page, with white space all around it. The first line of each paragraph is left-justified which means it is not indented. This blog uses block paragraphs!

Indented paragraphing does not have a blank line between each paragraph. Instead, you start the first line of each paragraph about five or six spaces from the left hand margin of your page.  Read the rest of this entry »




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Do You Need a Pseudonym?

April 23rd, 2021

First, thanks to Simon for last week’s post. I’ve known him for a long time and if anyone can provide good tips on how to be more positively productive as a writer, it’s him!

Now for some sad news; Jimmy Hodge who tutored for us for many years died towards the end of March aged 88. Jimmy was a brilliant tutor, journalist and author – but he was also a real character. He was part of a Western re-enactment society and when his group visited Rochester, Indiana in the late 70s he was made an honorary Deputy Sheriff. He later used this in his road safety work with Kent schoolchildren – just one of the many things he did as part of his charitable work. Our condolences go to all his family – he will be sadly missed. Read the rest of this entry »




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Poetry Competition Winners Announced!

September 18th, 2020

First, thanks to Sharon for last week’s post. It’s reassuring to realise that there are still slots out there for shorter pieces. You’re never going to be able to give up the day job writing for this market, but it can provide a lucrative side-line. And if you find yourself stalled – for whatever reason – on a longer piece, you can always turn to letters or a quick filler and hope your block will have cleared by the time you get back to it.

Now…quick drumroll… here are the winners of our 2020 Poetry Competition. In first place we have Alison Reed with Tango For Two; in second place Judith T Drazin with Tea, Toast and Temperance and in third place Roger Elkin with You Bring Me Bouches-du-Rhone. I’m not going to go into detail here as I’ve given my general views on this year’s entries in a previous post. But I can assure you that the three winners are brilliant – please go and read them on our Competitions Page. Keep checking there too because our latest Flash Fiction Competition will soon be open for entries. Read the rest of this entry »




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Poetry Pointers

August 17th, 2020

First, thanks to Antonio for his humorous post. But behind the humour there’s lots of serious and useful advice; so please think about it and take it to heart if you hope to improve your short fiction.

Next, I’m sorry that I didn’t get a post up last week. Working from home is great but when you get an IT glitch it causes real problems. Hopefully, normal service is now resumed!

The end of July saw the close of our 2020 Poetry Competition – thank you to everyone who entered. We’re currently working through the entries in order to put together our ‘longlist’. As usual, it’s hard work because we had so many great poems. As we’ve been going through them some made us laugh, some made us shed a tear and one or two made us gasp or groan. Read the rest of this entry »




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