Guest Writer Spot

It’s Friday and time for my Guest Writer Spot. If you’d like your writing to appear on this page, please contact me here or by e-mail: I accept stories, poems, articles – in fact, anything and everything. All you have to do is make sure your prose is no longer than 2000 words and your poems no more than 40 lines.

This week’s Guest Writer is author, Brenda Scruggs. Here, she writes about her innovative marketing idea:

Thinking Outside the Box!
Well maybe, inside the box. For an author, marketing is something we are
continually working on. I enjoy finding blogs that think outside the box
on promoting. I’ve promoted on blogs, been featured in interviews, social
media and so forth.
But today, I am trying something new, thinking outside the box by
broadcasting my work inside the box, that is putting my work inside a
(box) frame of a car magnet. Yes, a car magnet. God can give us witty
inventions, so I’m trying one.
My husband works in a Metropolitan, driving almost an hour a day to work
on a major interstate. Yeah, we love the country life. So, I got this
He is on a super busy interstate twice a day, why not advertise my book
with a car magnet. It would be seen by almost a hundred people a day, if
not more.
Even if, you don’t travel a major interstate, I believe it would still
promote your work in everyday travel (I ordered one for my car also) and
would be a plus when you went on vacation. Just make sure that you have
a few copies of your book with you. Who knows you might just sell them. This

is my short tidbit on thinking outside the box with book promotions.

Happy traveling,
Brenda Scruggs
Author of, “Many Hats of a Lady“.
Here’s a photo of Brenda’s car magnet:
car magnet
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Another Dash Of Flash

Looking at the title of one of the books on my shelf, the following story came to mind:


I stop, tears streaming down my cheeks. Soft whispers caress me, building in sound slowly, the harshness of the words with them. The snap of stiff wood to my right, a yell of triumph to my left.

Fingers of fear creep over me, prodding, pressing, pulling, refusing to leave me alone. My feet find movement and the relentless rain stabs at my mouth, my nose, my eyes.

I think of my pursuers. I know what they did to Annie; I know what they’ll do to me.

A shimmering light catches my eye. How can I have ended up back here? Pretty pools of sparkling blue dance on the water, mesmerising, motioning me forward. I’m sure I can see Annie. She is smiling, beckoning me.

Hands grab me. Rough, snatching handfuls of hair. The ducking stool awaits, but I am no longer afraid.    



Image credit:

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Markets For Writers

We all love a ghost story, don’t we? Well, The Fiction Desk have announced that their 2018 Ghost Story Competition is now accepting entries. Here are some details for you:


1st: £500

2nd: £250

3rd: £100

Entry fee: £8 per story

Word limit: Between 1000 – 7000 words

Closing date: 31st January 2018 

To find out more, see the competition page.



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Funny Of The Week/They Don’t Make ’em Like They Used To Part Three

This series of Funny of the Week is one of nostalgia, where we take a trip back in time to newspaper ads of old. Though, you wouldn’t see any ads like these now… If you missed part one, click here. Here’s part two. And if you’re not sure what you want for Christmas, you might find this useful…


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Writing Workshop…Top Tips

Now for instalment number thirteen in my writing workshop series. I’ve covered the short story ending as well as the opening.  I’ve guided you through dialogue and focused on the importance of taking time to do things properly. I’ve also given you a competitions refresher and some general advice on the art of the short story. The seventh instalment was about tips on writing humorous pieces and the eighth helped you with generating ideas. Then I turned to the art of copywriting followed by writing anniversary pieces. I’ve shown you how to generate more ideas – but in a different way and last week moved on to the true-life story. This week argues that there are no excuses – you can write anywhere!

Have Pen, Will Write – Anywhere!

Not many of us have the luxury of becoming a full-time writer as soon as we start out. Instead, it’s a case of snatching hours and minutes here and there in between the day job and all that life throws at us.

The same can be said for where we write. A lot of writing magazines feature interviews with successful writers about their writing places. Many writers pen best-sellers from the comfort of sumptuous studies or from beautiful rooms overlooking glorious views where the only sound to interrupt the writer in his craft, is the melodious music of nature. It doesn’t hurt to dream and hopefully that will be you one day but, in the meantime, if you want to write, as long as you have pen and paper (or computer and mouse, laptop etc) to hand, you can write – anywhere.

In the Café

Well, if it’s good enough for J.K. Rowling, then it’s good enough for me – or words to that effect! Whilst sitting in a café and writing is no guarantee of world-wide success, a film and theme park attraction, you’ll be surprised at how much writing you can achieve in your lunch hour, as you grab a bite to eat, whether it’s working on your novel, an article or short story.

A café is also a good place to gather ideas. People watch. Does the woman sitting in the corner, with a sad expression on her face, have a secret? This is an opportunity to unleash your imagination to the full. The secret could be a sordid one or a sweet one; it’s up to you. The couple standing in the corner, with smiles plastered across their faces, could be having an affair or they might have won the lottery. Any of these ideas could be turned into an entertaining story.

The café may fill up and you could find yourself next to a stranger. A polite ‘Hello’ could lead to a longer conversation and an article about the unusual job or hobby that person has.

Open yours ears and you’ll hear all sorts of accents and dialects, which can be used as the basis for a character in a short story or book, adding that extra ingredient essential to bringing the character to life. Or the subject of the conversation may pique your interest and have you delving into a new subject which could lead to an article or filler.

In the Car

The car, surprisingly, can be a great place to write in (obviously not while driving!). If you drive to work and arrive early, or have arranged to meet your spouse back at the car on a shopping trip and find yourself twiddling your thumbs waiting for him/her, take the opportunity to write. Even if the car park is dingy, complete with flickering fluorescent light (if a dull, dark shimmer of yellow can be called light), it can be achieved. I speak from experience having crafted a prize-winning story from the back seat of a car, in a darkened car park, eyes squinting the whole time.

If you’re travelling to work on public transport or taking a trip somewhere nice, the journey (as long as you’re not pressing up to someone’s sweaty armpit due to lack of seats) can give you time to catch up on your writing or you can use it as research time – in finding appropriate markets to send your work to, either by way of the internet or if you’ve already purchased some magazines, it’ll give you chance to analyse them. Or you may need time to research an idea or an event in history for your novel.

At the least you can view this as time to generate ideas. See the castle ruins you pass by daily in a different light, offering ideas for a ghost or historical fiction story. Or could you do a little research and write an article about local castles and their history? If you’re seeing sights for the first time, clear your mind and let the ideas come.

Hospital Waiting Rooms, Horrendous Halls and Farm Parks

How many times have you moaned about hours spent hanging round hospital waiting rooms as your appointment runs late? Take a notebook with you next time and put those wasted hours to good use. Or why not take/download a book and see what’s making it into the bestseller charts these days?

Parents amongst you will know just what I mean by the many hours spent ferrying your children to and fro, sitting in drafty corners in dreary backrooms while your children learn pliés and arabesques or trumpets and violins. You’ll often see other parents reading magazines, marking papers, or tapping away on their computers. If they can, so can you; half-an-hour or an hour’s lesson can be turned into a short story/article or chapter of a book. This is also another opportunity for reading or researching.

Additionally, waiting rooms, halls and farm parks offer a wealth of ideas to the writer for situations, storylines, characters and articles. Another from experience moment again – when my parents took my daughter off to see the zoo animals (yes, zoo animals in a farm park) I found myself drawn to the park area; it had an elaborate dragon theme going on, but what really caught my eye was a little girl sobbing her heart out and refusing to enter the park because dragons were scary. Her parents were unsuccessfully trying to persuade her that dragons were really cute, cuddly creatures underneath and that there wasn’t a real dragon about to jump out at her, but she was having none of it. This gave me the idea for a picture book where the dragon was an extremely nice one who became a nanny to a royal princess. I wrote the whole story in half-an-hour, sat on a picnic bench covered in bird droppings and battling against a blustery gale.   

When children are involved, they can’t help but come out with those hilarious one-liners so you may find a good source of anecdotes for one of the women’s weeklies, as you feed the donkeys and they slobber all over you.


Surely holidays aren’t for writing? Holidays are for relaxing and doing nothing. For some they are but, for others, they’re a time to see sights and enjoy new experiences. This is excellent fodder for stories and articles, as well as fillers and letters. You could just take some notes and photos so you don’t even have to write your piece on holiday; this can all be stored and it’s then ready for you to work on when you’re back home.

On the other hand, perhaps you write best on holiday away from the rush and hassle of everyday life at home. Even if you’re on holiday with family, you can still spend a little time writing, either when everyone else is taking a siesta or if you each have some time to do your own thing.

These are only a few examples of how you can write anywhere. So now you have no excuse!


happy 1



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Guest Writer Spot

It’s Friday and time for my Guest Writer Spot. If you’d like your writing to appear on this page, please contact me here or by e-mail: I accept stories, poems, articles – in fact, anything and everything. All you have to do is make sure your prose is no longer than 2000 words and your poems no more than 40 lines.

This week’s Guest Writer is Mary A. Pérez. Here is a little bit about her:

Mary A. Pérez is a noted writer, author and blogger born in the Bronx to Puerto Rican parents. She grew up running the streets of Miami until her late teens. 
Her award-winning essays have been featured in The Latino Author, La Respuesta Magazine and Sofrito for Your Soul. Her debut memoir, Running in Heels: A Memoir of Grit and Grace
(Stellar Communications Houston, Second Edition 2016) has received rave reviews and her fans keep growing.  She currently resides in Houston, Texas where she is blessed to be the mother of four grown children, “Mimi” to a couple of gorgeous grandchildren, and happily married (the second time around) to a phenomenal man for twenty-three years.
Mary is available for events, book club presentations, and book signings. Contact the Publisher Stellar Communications Houston 281-804-7089

Some of you know that I recently joined Toastmasters. Last Thursday, I was asked to introduce myself by giving my first speech called The Ice Breaker. The objectives are to begin speaking before an audience, and to discover speaking skills you already have and skills that need some attention. You only have four to six minutes to present it.
I’d like to share with you my Ice Breaker speech which I titled, “The Battle Within.” Was I nervous? You betcha! Did I stumble? Ah, yeah … but you move on and finish. By the way, I won best speech of the night. Go figure. You never know the outcome if you don’t put yourself out of your comfort zone and try.
Thank you, Mr. Toastmaster.
Hi, I’m Mary Ann.  I’m a published author, currently working as an Inside Sales rep for a customer service company in Sugar Land, Texas. I am happily married to my best friend for 22 years, and I have four amazing children and two adorable grandchildren.
I was born in New York and raised in Miami after my parents separated when I was 3, and divorced by the time I was 5.
I lived with my single mother and we were dirt poor. There was no money, no food and no love.  Now, when there’s no money, you don’t have any shoes, and you get a lot of eviction notices. When there’s no food, well, you’re hungry all the time. And when there’s no love, you feel isolate, insecure and invisible. Forced to grow up too fast, wearing shoes too big for my feet, and being my mother’s mother, crippled me emotionally.
At an early age, a battle was raging within me and that was the feeling of being “less than.”
Ashamed of my upbringing, heritage, and status, I felt only the ritzy kids went to summer camps, swimming lessons and Girl Scout gatherings, but not me; I was always on the outside looking in.
In my teens, I grew bitter and thinking that I could do better than my mother, I eventually ran into the arms of a ruthless man, twice my age. He was an alcoholic, a womanizer, a brow-beater, and he ruled with an iron fist. All the while, I struggled with that battle from within called insecurities. I wore a mask to try to cover feelings of low self-esteem and self-worth, which clouded my vision.
He and I did married. By the time I was 22, I had my 4th child. I was only a “baby-machine” to him, and he constantly fed my insecurities and never let me forget I was under his feet.  I felt I couldn’t do better, so I stayed in that relationship. I felt trapped but I made the best of my situation for my children’s sake. Long story short, that marriage lasted 15 years. I guess I grew up.
In retrospect, it wasn’t until I returned to the God of my grandparents that my mind, past and emotions were healed. I know now that what I endured yesterday as a child and as a young adult made me the stronger woman that I am today.
A few years ago, I decided to write my memoirs for my kids so that they can know some of the history, struggles and hardships their mother faced. I wanted them to know that no matter what, our past does not have to dictate our future. And it’s been my present husband who encouraged and supported me all along, telling me, “You know you need to write for other women so that they can be inspired.” He was right.
Although no longer ashamed of my pain, you know I still fight a battle from within? I struggle with low self-esteem. I DO! But I know that I have God on my side now. He not only had given me the grit to come this far, but He also gives me His grace to carry me through every obstacle that I ever faced! I learned that the battles are not mine but are His.
In my book, “Running in Heels: A Memoir of Grit and Grace,” I share the coming-of-age journey about a girl’s refusal to be defined by her environment while seeking inner-healing thru her brokenness. No matter your past, you can still be a person of worth! And it starts with a made-up mind!
I have joined Toastmasters to help my battle from within that I may gain confidence during book signings, attending book clubs & author’s events in helping me by overcoming the fear, the insecurities & the nerves when it’s time to open my mouth. You see, it’s one thing to write a book, it’s quite another to be able to speak to others. I know I have something to say; my desire is to say it effectively and inspire others.
Thank you.
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China Girl

This well-worn photo is of my wonderful grandmother, Joan. My grandfather, Ken carried it around in his pocket while he was away fighting in the Second World War. The following story takes a trip back down memory lane – to a time before the couple met and to my grandmother’s relationship with a very special doll.

My grandmother had been overjoyed when her father had given her the gift of a beautiful china doll. She lovingly cared for her and took great pride in pushing her around in her doll’s pram. One particular day, while playing, my grandmother accidentally let go of the pram. It raced away, tipping over and throwing the doll unceremoniously out onto the pavement with a loud cracking noise.

My grandmother was distraught; she’d broken her precious doll and she faced having to tell her father. As wine butler to King George V, looking after things and abiding by the rules was of prime importance to my great-grandfather. My grandmother was fearful of a stern telling off, but her father adored his only daughter.

When he came home one afternoon with a new doll though, from the look in his eye, she knew that this time there really wouldn’t be another chance. 

The doll survived until my grandmother had children of her own, six in total, three boys and three girls. With so many youngsters around, the doll was stored safely away, too precious to be played with. My grandmother wanted her to be an heirloom to be handed down over generations to come.

She came over one afternoon and handed me a package wrapped in newspaper. I had seen the photograph of the doll (taken in the late 1920s/early 30s), but I hadn’t imagined that my grandmother still had her, let alone that I would be the one she wanted to leave her to. She told me that as my father was her eldest child and I was the first granddaughter, she wanted me to have it.

The shock must have shown on my face when I parted the paper to see the clear eyes staring back at me. The doll’s clothes had worn away over the years and her hair was matted. Apart from that, she was perfect.

I saw tears in my grandmother’s eyes and knew what this meant to her. I knew that I had to show my grandmother how much this also meant to me.

I contacted a dolls’ house infirmary to see if there was anything they could do. They certainly could and made the doll new clothes from authentic materials of the time. My grandmother had given me a description of the colours and materials used for the doll’s original clothes. The infirmary also made new hair.

I’ll never forget my grandmother’s face when she saw her doll, restored to how she was all those years ago. Sadly, my grandmother passed away not long after. The doll is cherished – a wonderful reminder of a wonderful grandmother. 




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