30th September And so it Continues

The summer’s well and truly over if the weather and chilly couple of nights are anything to go by. Time, I think, to put the craziness of summer in a box marked the past and  start writing again. Its been the best and worst of times this summer – here are some pics of the wonderful things I did, which feel like a lifetime ago since the scary crazy Brexit-driven mayhem that’s been taking place in Westminster over recent weeks. As you can see from the hotchpotch of photos, this summer I have: greeted my new grandchild, cropped my garden veggies and preserved them for the winter,  travelled to Iceland for a jolly, travelled to Gdansk to see family, attended my youngest sons last ever school event, and been gifted a beautiful painting by uber-talented and lovely human being FE Clarke for a wee bit of feedback I gave her after signing my book deal by way of thanking the world for my good fortune.  There was loads more too for which I have no pictorial support: helping my youngest son get off to Uni, my oldest son sell his house whilst he’s making a new home in Poland, learning soooo much stuff from sooo many writers at the Flash Festival  yadder, yadder yadder. I could bang on for (p)ages. But why are you saying all this I hear you cry? What this got to do with anything writerly? My point is that there’s so much to get in the way of writing: people, places, work, the scary, scary world beyond our control, but eventually time and space always come round and there’s time/headspace to get creative.  I love writing. More than love it. Its necessary for my mental health and well-being. So it feels like coming home when I look at the rain lashing the window and the leaves turning all the colours of autumn, and the house newly empty of teenagers because they’ve all tickled off to  new adventures, till Christmas at least, and for the first time in forever I actually have real space and time to put writing into the foreground. It feels like a gift and a privilege to be able to do so…so let the writing re-commence.

PS I was lucky enough to come second in the brilliant Molotov Wild Flash comp last month. Here’s my weirdest story ever if you fancy a read.



9/7/2019 Beginnings and Endings

Well quite a lot has happened since I last blogged:

Harry left school for ever and had his leavers’ ball; I had flash fictions published in FlashBack Fiction and Reflex; I went to the Flash Festival in Bristol for a weekend and had the best time meeting my all-time flash heroes and friends; I signed a publishing contract with Retreat West Books who are going to publish my memoir-in-flash The Naming of Bones in 2021, and I became a grandma for the first time!

Here are links to the published flashes and announcements in case you fancy a read:




I feel June 2019 was a bit of a turning point for me. I started this blog page to chart my journey as a fledgling writer as I practised and submitted and moved forward, learning to learn from rejections, other writers and to develop the craft that is creative writing. My journey has had its ups and downs, and its not always been easy, sometimes the words have flowed, sometimes they’ve got stuck, sometimes I’ve written stories about things that wanted to be written rather than things I was aiming to write. Every now and again I nailed what I was trying to do after loads of advice and editing, once or twice I nailed it, just like that.

Two things I’m most grateful for four years into my writing journey, is a) that I’ve leaned so much about myself which has helped to heal old wounds, and b) I’ve met people who I now count as real and true friends.

I don’t know where life and writing will take me next but I’m so, so glad I started to do this at the ripe old age of 49. It has been life-changing, life-affirming and life-enhancing.

I hope my brand new grandson will be proud of me. Having a published author for a Granny.






Schools Out for EVER

Today is the day that I’ve at once been dreading and looking forward to for the last thirty four and three quarter  years. Harry finished his A levels on Wednesday and flew to Magaluf last night and as he’s the youngest of our four kids, Nick and me are home alone for a week. This being the case I’m in the hobbit hole writing and it feels really weird not having to dash hither and yon at the drop of a hat. This weekend therefore,  I aim to do some long writing novel wise. Recently I’ve found myself writing many micros as you can zip in and out of them without feeling like you’re being ripped from a different time and place. But before I immerse myself thought I’d do a quick update here.

Last time I wrote about entering democratic comps where people vote for your story. The once I found the most useful was Sixfold. I subbed an experimental short story that was a bit marmite. Of the five votes cast it got 2 top marks, 2 bottom marks and 1 middle mark. The feedback was mostly useful though, so I’ll do it again but with something a bit more mainstream.

In terms of other subs I was shortlisted for Retreat West’s new micro comp, here’s the link https://www.retreatwest.co.uk/june19-micro-shortlist/  I can’t say which is mine as the vote’s still open but there’s still time to vote if you fancy it (closes 24th June). I think its much better having anonymous voting. I entered a comp last month where people vote knowing who wrote what and its a bit more like an on-line popularity contest than about the writing, I reckon.

Here’s a link for Micro Madness in New  Zealand.  The winning submission is published today 22 June 2019 (the shortest day in New Zealand)  https://nationalflash.org/micro-madness/ I’m very pleased to say I made the shortlist of 22 micros, from a record year of entries. My drabble is at 7th June of you fancy a read.

Comp entry wise I’ve also been longlisted for the Bath Short Story competition which I’m dead chuffed about. Its the first time I’ve entered and there were over 1400 entries!

Submissions wise I’ve had a story accepted by Flashback Fiction but I don’t know when they’re going to publish it yet. I’ve also entered their next drabble comp about the moon.

Other comps I’m going enter this month are Molotov prompt Nature, and Retreat West monthly comp, prompt – the wind.

Both entries are written and just need a final polish and which I’m going  send off today before falling back into the novel.

Right better make the most of my childless weekend and crack on. Its going to be sooo weird when Harry goes to Uni – so much writing time.


White Rabbits White Rabbits White rabbits 1st May

That’s what we used to say up north on the first day of a new month. When I moved darn sarf I learned the pinch punch thing but oop north it was always about white rabbits. I expect both go back millennia and are something to do with pre-Christian beliefs. Maybe white rabbits were lucky and maybe pinching and punching stopped devils from getting in. Either way traditions are funny things – we do them without thinking very often, without really knowing their origins, like scoffing choccie at Easter or hanging lights up at Christmas, and when we don’t exactly know the reasons why, often we just enjoy the moment instead of asking questions. That’s why on this May Day of new beginnings, I’m going to repurpose this blog. It started when I started doing creative writing five years ago as a sort of personal record of my progress doing courses at the OU and learning how to write (I didn’t actually make it visible until 2016). Now that I’ve been published hither and yon and won some comps and got me masters I think tis maybe time to do something a little less self-centred, so starting this month I’m going to change emphasis a wee bit and blog about things like submissions, applications (for both PhDs and literary jobs) competition entries, courses, talks and giving writerly feedback to other people, in the hope it may provide information, insight and support for others thinking of walking the same path.

But first here is a link to a story that was shortlisted and then published by Writers HQ this month as part of their first ever quarterly competition. Hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it. . https://writershq.co.uk/how-to-keep-the-hunger-at-bay-jan-Kaneen/


This month I’ve mostly entered comps that are voted for, either by participants, or by readers and participants. The first is Ad Hoc Fiction – my old fave.  I won this bi-weekly comp ages ago then sort of fell off the wagon of doing it, well yesterday I fell back on again. Its a really fab free comp that gets you entry into Bath Flash comp if you win. Here’s the link if you fancy it. You get a prompt and 150 words and readers who chance that way (as well as participants) vote for their faves and the winner is the one with the most votes. Writer’s aren’t allowed to identify their entries online so its voted for ‘blind.’ It really is great fun. Here’s the link to the submission pages https://adhocfiction.com/submit/

This month I’ve also entered, for the first time, another free comp for drabbles (100 word flash fictions) @writingwriters_  This is also voted for rather than judged by a judge though writers can identify their stories on social media and the like to up their chances of winning. I’m not going to though as I just watch the process play out.  Here’s the link to entering next month’s comp if you fancy giving it a whirl. There’s a cash prize of £35 https://www.writingwriters.net/p/drabble.html

I’ve also entered one paid-for comp, ‘Sixfold’ with a short story this time. Sixfold is a quarterly comp that works like this: you enter agreeing to stick to the three-part voting/feedback process, if at any time you don’t get the feedback done by the given deadline your own entry is withdrawn and you can’t win the prize. This is what they say:

In round 1, 6 writer-voters compare your manuscript (and everyone else’s) to 5 other manuscripts, rank-voting them as Best, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, or 6th. (Each manuscript is compared to 30 others by 6 different readers.) Each manuscript’s voting score average is averaged and compared to all others, and then the highest-voted one-third of manuscripts advances to the next round. Round 2 manuscripts go on to receive 18 readers and 90 comparisons, and the highest-voted one-third advances to round 3. Round 3 manuscripts receive 54 readers and 270 comparisons. Each manuscript completing round 3 is read and rank-voted by 78 different writer-voters, with a grand total of 390 comparisons to other manuscripts. So much reading and comparing is the most thorough consideration of your manuscript available.

It costs $5 to enter and I thought this would be a really interesting comp to be part of, vis a vis, getting feedback will be useful (hopefully) to improve the submission for future comps, and also it feels inclusive and different. The deadline is gone for now fiction wise, but here’s the link to the site should you fancy it next quarter. They also do a separate poetry competition. https://www.sixfold.org/howitworks.html#deadlines I’ll feedback in future blogs what it was like being part of each of these.


Happy New Year!

Its been quite a while since I blogged – last year in fact – so to anyone reading this – happy happy new year. To anyone wondering why I’ve been so quiet – its been because of general busy-ness, and life and stuff and shit: vis-à-vis

  • Putting together a PhD application for the OU – deadline 11/1/2019 – which was sooooo much work
  • Writing/sequencing/editing a novella-in-flash for a deadline 31/1/2019. My PhD proposal includes the writing of a novel-in-flash and I thought I’d better practise by writing a novella-in-flash first ( having never done one). As luck would have it Ellipsis Litzine had a comp with a deadline coming up that was to be judged by someone I have huge admiration and respect for – the writer and clinical psychologist Stephanie Hutton. Ellipsis is fabuloso too, and the quality of writing there-in brill, fab and ace so off I went, writing like a fury. Having something to aim for was a brill incentive to get things finished and I made the deadline by the skin of my teeth. I’m pleased to say that my entry, The Naming of Bones came second – here’s the link to the results – https://www.ellipsiszine.com/ellipsis-flash-collection-competition/ Sooo many congrats to all the winners and listees. The feedback we all got was second to none and the competition was a real joy. If they do it again next year enter – the support, joy and fun were totally brill and having the second prize on my CV can only help further PhD applications.
  • Putting together three more bespoke PhD Applications as the OU didn’t have anyone they felt was right to supervise my admittedly niche and specialist  proposal. These applications are not yet sent and I’m going to change my supporting writing examples today to The Naming of Bones which I hope will help. I’m aiming to get the applications out into their appropriate worlds by the end of this week.
  • Helping my three sons respectively to a) emigrate to Poland b) move into first flat c) pass driving test & do UCAS application. The driving test thing is of mahoosive importance to me. On any other first day of the school holidays I would be driving youngest son to the gym, shops, rugby matches, mates houses, but not today. Today he has taken himself and I am writing in the hobbit hole which feels like real freedom.
  • Graduated at the Barbican where I got my MA in Creative Writing seated next to my friend and feedback buddy Judith. In a sea of graduates in all subjects  me and J were miraculously seated next to each other due to: same grading, being alphabetically consecutive, beneficence of the writing goddess. We talked for hours and it was totally brill meeting her and other course buddies who I’d never met before in the real world. Here’s a video my husband took of us getting our scrolls.
    This video doesn’t exist

    Right, these PhD proposals wont write themselves, better crack on

18/12/2018 Prague and Back Again

Big development since I last posted. The MA results were announced a day early (on the prague2 10th December) and I am very proud (and relieved) to say I passed with distinction. All my classmates did really well too which is of course, in part, due to our wonderful tutor Kath Stansfield who was (is) so brilliant – helpful, insightful, expert, sensitive and inspiring. Thanks Kath. I count myself so lucky to have found myself under your tutelage.

I’m all action stations now writing my PhD proposal for 11th January. I want to anchor my PhD research inside flash fiction asking questions like what defines it? What effects play large parts in the writing of it? How far can the form can be stretched in using it to write long? As a result of this, I’m unsure if doing a PhD at the OU will be possible but I’m applying there first because, well better the devil you know, but if they don’t feel they can facilitate my area of interest, at least the proposal will be written for sending to other places.

prague1To celebrate/commiserate the results (we didn’t know what they were when we booked it) and by way of an early gift to each other, me and grumpy husband went to Prague on 11th for a couple of days shopping on the Christmas Markets and to drink mulled wine on street corners in the freezing cold, both of which I can highly recommend. Prague is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever visited. The food was divine, the architecture to die for and, as the cold never bother me anyway, it was just the right temperature for Christmas – and they had a Mahoosive Christmas tree that glowed and glittered and shimmered as you can see from the first picture.

On the writing front, I dashed out a quick and evil flash after one of Team Darkness, @allthosestrings tweeted about @weird_Christmas – a brill blog dedicated to everything strangely seasonal that was running a free flash comp. The results were out this morning. I didn’t win but my flash friend @Uksherka (and member of Team Darkness) came second with a moving and emotional flash about loss and coping with it at this festive time of year. My flash did make the cut though and is included on the podcast. Here’s the link https://weirdchristmas.com/2018/12/17/wc-14-weird-christmas-flash-fiction-contest-results-episode/

Probably wont have time to blog again this side of Chrimbo day so season’s greetings and happy holidays cyber friends. Hope you have the sort of Christmas you’re hoping for.




4/12/2018 Only one week left to go!

This time next week is a very important day in my world, not just because of the vote in the commons about the PM’s Brexit deal (or no deal) but because the MA results will be out.

I thought waiting for two months would be difficult but I’ve done a lot of reading and studying the form that is flash in the hiatus in prep for my PhD application, and have written a few flashes too. My shortlisted Flashback drabble didn’t make it off the shortlist but having read the winners I’m just grateful it made it onto the list at all to be honest. Talented writer buddy and all round good egg @jonzeywriter came second with this moving gorgeousness http://flashbackfiction.com/index.php/2018/11/10/ogdens/

Here’s the judges feedback on the whole thing which mentions mine anonymously so it can be re-entered for other comps http://flashbackfiction.com/index.php/2018/11/12/wwi-microfiction-competiton-judges-report/

Since I last blogged, I’ve also entered the LISP flash comp for the first time, Reflex again and Writers HQ LGBTQ comp about spreading the love.

In between now and the 11th I’m going to polish my unsubmitted MA stories and send them out into the world and also start the National Flash day advent calendar prompts which look amazing. I’ve not done any yet but if I do two a day for the next couple of days I’ll be up-to-date. Here’s the link is you fancy a go http://flashfloodjournal.blogspot.com/

I’m also hatching two stories for the Molotov Cocktail comp – prompt Phantoms – along with the rest of Team Darkness (a group of uber supportive writers of the teeny weird who gee each other up on Twitter). Here’s the link to the comp https://themolotovcocktail.com/phantom-flash/

And finally here’s me in my Christmas sweater which I’m wearing to get festive whilst doing on-line Christmas shopping. We’re off to Prague next week for the Christmas markets and to do shopping in person, so I’ll be there when the results are posted. Here’s hoping me and Santa Pingu have something  to celebrate…gulp.


8/11/2018 PhD Propsals and Competition Shortlistings

I’m sitting here with a pile of books to read – recommendations from wonderful Twitter buddies from my call out for essays/academic writing/ forwards on flash fiction and novella-in-flash. I’m reading them because I’m putting together a PhD proposal which must be submitted by 11/1/2019. Everything in the proposal needs placing in the context of current knowledge/arguments and must be accompanied by a bibliography of primary and secondary texts that I intend to study, so there is much to do. I thought getting the proposal drafted ASAP a good way of using my spare time now the MA is done and dusted, and though the results aren’t out until 11th December, I also thought I might as well crack on and not assume the worst.

In between reading for the proposal, I’ve been writing flash fictions in earnest which I haven’t done since I started the MA when I was taken over by learning, writing short stories and my novella, so it has been lovely that my first two post-MA attempts have done quite well. The wee flash I wrote for the ‘The Story for Daniel’ Competition won highly commended and the one I submitted to the FlashBack micro-fiction competition for armistice day has been short-listed. The stories that won Daniel’s comp were just so gorgeous. Here’s a link to them so you can have read.  https://gaynor69.wixsite.com/astoryfordaniel

Re FlashBack, I’m not allowed to say which title is mine as the results aren’t all out yet (they’re revealing them one at a time with the winner being published on 11/11), but here’s a link to the shortlist with my teeny tale’s title on it. http://flashbackfiction.com/index.php/2018/11/06/ww1-microfiction-competition-shortlist/

If the rest of the winning stories are as emotionally charged and beautifully written as the first highly commended drabble was yesterday, we’re all in for a series of brilliantly brief reading experiences.  Here’s the link to the first, http://flashbackfiction.com/index.php/2018/11/07/life-after-death/

Right, back to Rose Metal Press’s Field Guide to Flash Fiction which I cannot recommend highly enough.

22/10/2018 Grapes and People and Marching

This week has been full of other things than writing. Now the MA is all done and dusted I decided to pick the grapes from the vine that grows in our back garden. As you can see from the pics below, this year has been a bumper crop. More than bumper really – this summer was perfect for grape growing and we might never see the like again. This and because it seemed like a terrible waste to leave them only to the wasps and birds made us decide to try wine-making. We picked thousands and thousands – me, Nick and Granny Dot (who’d come to visit for the weekend.) When we were sick of the sight of grapes and more grapes I washed me feet and trod them (mine were the only feet small enough to fit in the bucket). We now have litres of grape juice fermenting in a huge plastic vat in the inglenook which Nick reckons will make about 24 bottles of vino. That was one week ago so today it will need passing through muslin to sift out the silt.

This weekend, whislt the yeast was doing its thang, we went on the Peoples’ March in London and I can honestly say I have never seen so many people in all my life. Yesterday’s newspapers said it was around 700,000, and it really did feel like it. And yet there was no trouble, no sense of menace like there was at the poll tax demo all those years ago. It was full of families with their pets and picnics and groups of people with a common cause, NHS workers, the elderly, the young. And loads of musicians. We were next to a troupe of drummers who were excellent and a bloke intermittently playing Ode to Joy on a trombone. I hope the powers that be sit up and take notice because 700k is a lorra, lorra people to ignore. I hope more people get involved next time . I can recommend it. I felt honoured and uplifted to be part of something so well-intentioned, and it got me to thinking about the wine and picking the grapes. Each teeny weeny fruit wouldn’t justify a single swallow, but put them all together and each little dribble becomes a gulp, becomes a glassful, becomes a cellar. Someone cleverer than me once said that no raindrop ever thinks it caused the flood.