To Review Or Not To Review

When a friend of mine had a book published, I bought a copy and happily posted a review on Amazon when he asked. Now I’ve had my own book published I can ask the the same of him, can’t I?

I can, but I don’t like asking people if they’d write a review. I’m always told I’m ‘too nice’ or ‘too polite’, but I know everyone is busy and I’m just grateful that people have bought the book. A few people have posted reviews (a huge thank you) so if anyone else would like to, that would be wonderful (but you don’t have to!).

I still have a few signed copies of ‘The Siege and Other Award Winning Stories’ left if you’d like to buy the book and of course, it’s still available from Amazon and all other e-book stores. To find out more about it, click on the following link:  (but, of course, you don’t have to buy it!)

I’d love to know how other authors go about getting reviews so any comments would be welcome :-)



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Top Tip Of The Week

Don’t over or under-explain

A lot of writers struggle with where to end their story. Some bring it to a close very abruptly and leave readers wondering what on earth happened next and thinking they’ve missed something vital. You don’t have to tie everything up in a neat little bow; it’s fine to let readers make up their mind e.g. in a crime story, you could leave readers to decide if the murderer gets away with it or not. But you need to leave readers with something e.g. don’t leave them thinking well, who was the murderer then? After investing time in your story, this will leave them frustrated.

On the other hand, don’t go beyond your story’s natural ending e.g. in a horror story, it’s more effective to finish with the girl thinking she’s got away only for the monster to appear right at the end, its jaws drooling, than it is to go into great detail about how the monster finished her off, the hours all her friends spent looking for her, how her beloved dog pined for her and so on. There’s no need. Finish with a scream and your readers will know exactly what’s going to happen to the girl and be able to imagine it for themselves in their minds – a far more effective ending.


I came across this and it made me smile. I thought I’d share it with my fellow writers:


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My Weekly Writing Challenge

Last week I set you the task of writing a story in ten words and you found it easy! So this week, I’m going to make it a little harder for you. I’d like another ten word story but this week, you need to find some way of using the words ‘potato’ and ‘Friday’ in your story! I wonder if they’ll be many challengers this week!

In the meantime, be inspired by last week’s ten worders:

Keith Channing was on the ball with a super story in so few words:

The meteorite fell without warning. Not a single soul survived.

Jason Moody showed us that not even ten words are needed:

In the beginning, there was light.
Turn it off!

Sacha Black demonstrated that you can tell a story with a beginning, middle and end in only ten words:

“Push harder.”

“Aaargh, I can’t.”

“Nearly there…”

“It’s a Boy.”

Jason soon came back with several ten worders. My favourite has to be number 4:





“True. Took ages to build.”

“Day, no?”


“What have you done to my cookie?”

“So that’s crumbling!”


“Look out. Asteroid!”

“It’s not the end of the world.”


He came. He sawed. He’d ruined the wife’s new kitchen.


Dark eyes stared at me.

“I must clean this mirror.”


Woman created beautiful things.

Man concurred.

The world was right.

Geoff Le Pard always gets it spot on:

Begin slow, raise the stakes and end with a twist.

Maria Wilhelmsson says she found it hard but she made it look effortless with such a good story:

She gasped with relief. Her son had survived the massacre.

Jasdeep Kaur sent in two brilliant stories:


Lorene collapsed. Leaving her worries behind, she flew to freedom.


Monica alienated her first date. She shouldn’t have taken neat.



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Markets For Writers

The publication I’m bringing you this week is a US magazine called ‘Creative Non-Fiction‘. It describes itself as ‘like jazz—it’s a rich mix of flavors, ideas, and techniques, some of which are newly invented and others as old as writing itself. Creative nonfiction can be an essay, a journal article, a research paper, a memoir, or a poem; it can be personal or not, or it can be all of these’.

They pride themselves on using a lot of unsolicited material so they offer a great opportunity to the new writer.

Throughout the year, they have specific slots they invite submissions for e.g. one slot they’re currently asking submissions for is on the subject of marriage.

They pay for articles. Check the website for current rates.

Back issues of the magazine are available to buy.

Their website gives detailed guidelines and answers frequently asked questions. For further information click on:



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Funny Of The Week/Hilarious Exam Answers Part Two

If you don’t know the answer, is it best to leave it blank or put the first thing that comes to mind?!


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Monday Motivation Challenge Special – The Results

Last week I set you a Monday Motivation Challenge Special: can you write a short story, where the first sentence starts with A, the next B and so on, right throuigh to Z? I wasn’t sure if any of you would want to take up the challenge, but you did! And brilliantly, too. Here are the results. Sit back and admire:

Geoff Le Pard sent in his laugh-out-loud The A to Z of travel:

After two hundred yards, turn left.

‘Betty, does that phone know we need to get a move on?’

Continue to the next crossroads.

‘Don’t you think I’m trying to hurry?’

Effect a right turn.

‘Flipping, heck, whoever says ‘effect’ these days?’

‘Give yourself a minute, Betty.’

‘Harriet, I’m trying…’

‘I know, love, but the show.’

‘Just be patient, Betty, ok?’

Keep right.

‘Left surely?’

‘Maybe we should ask someone, Betty?’

‘Not now, Harriet…’

‘Of course, if you’re sure?’

‘Please Harriet, you aren’t helping.’

‘Quite what you have against asking the way, Betty…’

Right at the next fork.

‘Suppose we try him?’

‘That spotty youth?’

‘Unless you have a better idea?’

‘Virtually anything is better than asking him.’

‘Well what do you suggest?’

‘X-ray specks?’

‘You know what our chances are of being on time?’


Sacha Black sent in a very entertaining dark fairytale:

A long time ago in a land far far away there lived a hundred princesses, trapped by an evil queen.

“Beautiful princesses I think not,” the evil queen cried, “they shall never rule in my lands.”

“Couldn’t you reconsider your highness, the population grows smaller by the day,” shaking, the lowly servant bowed before her.

“Don’t be ridiculous, I don’t want the land filled with flowers and frills and all things nice. Everything has to be dark, Harold, dark and fuelled by magic.”

“Flowers help our food to grow, we need them.”

“Get out, Harold, unless you are with me, you are against me.”

“Harry, your highness. It’s Harry.”

“Just because you have worked for me for a decade, don’t think I won’t punish your insolence.”

“King’s on his way ma’am,” Harry said making a hasty retreat.

“Louise, my dearest queen, I’ve missed you,” said the King.

“Manage to secure the Knights for the next mission?”

“No, I’m afraid not, my dear.”

“Oh, that IS a shame. Particularly because I have done my part in this evil plan.”

“Quite. Really, there’s no need for bragging though, I shall have them organised soon enough.”

“Should hope so too.” The queen reached for the vile of poison on the desk her lips curling into a menacing smile.

“Unnatural deaths for the princesses then?”

Violence flashed through her eyes. Wry smiles adorned both their mouths. X-ray vision hazed their vison with dozens of bloody princess deaths.

“You will join me my King, and we shall be victorious reigning in our dark land.”

Zigzagging across the room the King swirled the queen around in his arms and they cackled the night away.

Steve Walsky was motivated by this writing challenge and compiled the hugely interesting A to Z list of odd/unusual words on Simplicity Lane. Do take a look:

Following on from this, he created an A-Z story using those words. Simply genius and a must see:

Jason Moody sent in a super story:

All it is, is a date. Better to find out, than to spend my life wondering. Casually, I sit at the bar. Don’t look about, I tell myself, you’ll look desperate. Everybody in here is coupled up; this is awkward. Fumbling for my phone, I must look nervous. Gotta keep calm. Hold onto yourself. It’s just a girl.

Jesus, this is nerve wracking. Killing me, the waiting, it’s killing me. Last look up. My God, she’s here. Nobody’s looking at me, that’s good.

Olivia, I think she said her name was. Palms are sweaty now; she’s going to love that. Question is, what can I do about it? Rub my palms on my jacket. Saved.

Telling fiddle with the hair, she’s nervous too. Unbelievable; this girl has agreed to meet me? Very low standards I imagine. Why would any woman date this? Xylophone sounds emirate from my pocket. You have to be kidding me?

“Zoe, I can’t talk right now, I’m on a date!”



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Top Tip Of The Week

Laugh Out Loud

We often take life too seriously. Yes, there are awful things happening all around the world and often in our own little corner of the world. We can feel sad, angry, frustrated, disappointed and so on, but if we take everything that’s bad, upsetting etc. and heap it onto our shoulders, it’ll crush us. We need to live our lives and to feel good about things too.

One thing that’s always guaranteed to make us feel better is to laugh and to laugh out loud. It’s also good to laugh at ourselves. I offer myself up as an example. I’m working on an article about always checking your work through. So when I read back through a text message I’d sent my friends, I laughed out loud. The words ‘Practice what you preach’ came to mind.

I thought I’d sent the following message: ‘I’m arranging a fun night out with the girlies for the end of March. Would you like to come?’ But of course, in my haste, I hadn’t checked it for typos.

By the end of the day, when I hadn’t received any replies, I thought I’d better check my message had actually been sent. It was then I saw what I’d typed or, more to the point, what predictive text had ‘helped’ me type: ‘I’m arranging a fun night out with the Gurkhas for the end of March. Would you like to come?’

Now, I’m not saying a night out with the Gurkhas wouldn’t be fun but it’s not in my plans for the end of March ;-) Ruthlessly checking anything I type from now on is!



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