‘Random Word’ Competition (fiction or poetry): Free to enter! c/d 16th April 2020

Free comp with prizes – I won this a few years ago- a golden shining moment there !!! – great fun to do-

Blog About Writing

Image from http://www.ClipartOf.com/ I have reached the giddy heights of 1000 followers (of the blog, not a strange religious sect that I run as a sideline. Although, there’s a thought…).

So, to celebrate, I’m running another of my little flash fiction competitions. It’s the usual formula (and it’s likely to be the last one, so make the most of it! I’m not stopping the competitions, I hasten to add but I think, next time, I’ll try something new).

The trusty random word generator came up with PUZZLE*, WELCOME, SHEEP and TEDIOUS and I’m adding THOUSAND for good measure and for obvious reasons, so those are your 5 words.

*strictly speaking – as the eagle-eyed amongst you will spot from the photo – it came up with ‘puzzled’ but I’ve changed it to puzzle, as that’s a little less restrictive.

I’d like you come up with a flash fiction story OR…

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New online free literary festival- tune in and listen to your fave writers talk/panels/ etc

Writers Rally to Support the Community with New Virtual Festival

The Stay-at Home! Festival is an new online literature festival designed to prevent loneliness, champion connectivity and community amidst social distancing, and celebrate writing and reading as tools to achieve this.

It is a free and completely online festival with workshops, readings, panels and Q&A sessions by writers of all genres that you can enjoy from the comfort of your sofa. The festival is created by poet, novelist and lecturer – and one of our Read Regional authors – CJ Cooke, in partnership with Paper Nations.

The programme features multiple events from 27 March – 11 April 2020, with subjects ranging from poetry to novel writing and nonfiction, career advice, wellbeing and mindfulness, mental health, and publishing.


Maggie O’Farrell, in conversation with Claire Malcolm, Chief Executive of New Writing North, about her new novel Hamnet at 8-9pm on Friday 3 April.

How to Write Picture Books that Support Little People in Tricky Times with Wendy Meddour. Join writer and illustrator Wendy Meddour in a masterclass designed to help you begin writing a picture book – adults and children welcome! Friday 27 March 3.30-4.30pm.

Abbie GreavesBeth Morrey and Clare Pooley will be in conversation with CJ Cooke to talk about their exciting debut novels at 5.30-6.30pm on Tuesday 31 March.

Jo Clement, editor of Butcher’s Dog reads from her poetry collection Moveable Type at 12-1pm on Tuesday 31 March. “Lyrically agile and never predictable, Moveable Type is a proud and startling debut pamphlet which marks an impressive new voice in contemporary poetry.” ​

Join Rishi Dastidar on Tuesday 31 March, 3-3.30pm as he gives a reading from his new book Saffron Jack, a long narrative poem which ‘boldly updates Kipling’s ‘The Man Who Would Be King’ to confront one of the most pressing issues our fractured world faces today – how can we live together in peace if we exile the most vulnerable in our societies and deny them a place to belong?’

Living Like Common People: Celebrating Working-Class Writers: A reading from the anthology Common Peoplefeaturing Louise Powell and guests at
7-8pm on Sunday 5 April.


All events are live, and you can find out the whole programme on the Stay-at-Home! Festival website. To join in, simply click on the web link provided on each event of the programme at the indicated start time – no need to register. All you need is a smartphone, tablet, or laptop – cosy up on the sofa with a hot drink and biscuit and enjoy!



New Writing North
PO Box 1277,
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE99 5BP
Tel: 0191 204 8850



Horror anthology out with fellow Horror Tree writer, R.J.Meldrum in it-

R.J.Meldrum and myself have been submitting to the Horror Tree for couple of years or more now https://horrortree.com/ and if you go on their new flash updated site and put in his name in the search box you will find a number of stories by him.

One year he and I were the top male/female most published by Horror Tree authors for that year- me mainly ‘cos of all the drabbles I’d sent in ie 100 worders so not too long or taxing to write- but Richard was sending in long stories and good ones too.

I’ve always enjoyed Richard’s work (a lot), he’s talented and writes entertaining, gripping and smooth stories often (like mine) with twists in the tail/tale.

Here’s his blog- https://duckduckgo.com/?q=richard+meldrum+writer&t=canonical&atb=v195-1&ia=web

and he, like me, has a story out with Demain Publishing, in their Short Sharp Shocks! series – which is well worth paying 99p to read its creepy darkness.

His fiction appears in many anthologies but this one is a recent publication from US indie press Breaking Rules

priced at £2.30 it has 27 horror stories – which is pretty good value- and Richard’s is ‘The Veiled Specter’.

Breaking Rules Publishing Short Story Anthology - Horror - 2 by [Rules Publishing, Breaking]

Horror Tree– a drabble of mine is up there-


Along with a short story by G.A.Miller Silent Witness – a writer whose fiction I can totally recommend-

Here’s my drabble:-

Song of the Pedlar

At his leather belt the bunch of keys clicks in time to the notes of his willow flute. The only sounds in the apparently deserted village. The pedlar dances a jig. Despite the blindfold he wears, he never misses a step. He knows they are watching. He has come for them, but some are not willing to follow.

He chooses another more melancholy melody, and wends his path through the overgrown alleyways, pausing at boarded-up windows and doors. He can smell their fear of him.

One by one they flow to him.

He is the Catcher of Souls left behind.


These are strange eerily quiet days spent mainly at home apart from an hour or so out with Roxy our Borador- on the moor- today with my son- who turned 18 just before the UK went into lockdown.

I am reading a lot and watching films- but not really writing- well not yet- I feel rather short of creative drive.

I’m reading this ebook (for the second time) which brilliantly charts the rise and tragic fall of 1940’s- 1950’s actress blonde bombshell Barbara Payton, a Marilyn Monroe forerunner with spectacular self destruct tendancies.

Her best remembered film today and the one where she gave her best performance was the 1949 James Cagney thriller, Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye


Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye - The Barbara Payton by [O'Dowd, John]

Concurrently I am also reading 2018’s Ramsey Campbell’s horror thriller,  13 Days which

is set on an imaginary Greek island, well I think it’s imaginary and I hope to God that what goes on there is fictional! It’s quiet, gentle, gripping slow burn horror and I’m suitably gripped.

Published by indie horror press- Flame Tree


Thirteen Days by Sunset Beach (Fiction Without Frontiers) by [Campbell, Ramsey]

And last night, in the early hours I plugged into Youtube and rewatched Doris Day and Cary Grant do what they did best in the 1962 comedy That Touch of Mink– balm to my soul. And I laughed. Day and Grant were so magnificent at what they did- the gentle bantering of the sex comedy.

That Touch of Mink Poster

Difficult times…to blog or not to blog and then what to put in the blog…free comps and National Trust gardens to walk in for free every day…

These are difficult and very unusual times we are living through and reading the news and even social media updates has been very anxiety inducing. I wasn’t sure whether to keep posting or not on my blog-  but then as we are all home more and looking (probably) for outlets to read/entertain/research online more then I thought – OK yes I will blog- a mix of info not just my writing but other useful links/tips I’ve read.


My writing news- I was on Drystone radio the other evening – at the kind invite of David Driver on his Writer’s Bookshelf along with my ukulele playing/singing partner, Richard White, talking about my crime novella, Maggie of my Heart. We also sang 5 songs – you can listen to us on the podcast here:- https://drystoneradio.com/show?show_id=8471

Then click on the Writer’s Bookshelf  17/3/20 to get to the podcast player.

The week before me and Richard were performing at Dave’s Gingerlicious open mic night (for the charity – Centrepoint).

Ginger gig 1

New story of mine up on line to read and listen to as an audio recording-

Up at The Casket of Fictional Delights edited by the ever supportive Joanna Sterling who years ago published my first piece of flash fiction is a new horror story- Porky Pig!


Be warned it does carry the trigger warnings:- Short Story Audio Disturbing, Horrific

This is not the easiest of reads and does go into some dark territory.


Two free competitions to enter:-

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It’s that time of year usually reserved for the MJMeads.com Short Story Competition. We thought long and hard about whether it was appropriate to run a competition in 2020 against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic. In the end we decided that with mandated social distancing across the world we might provide a welcome distraction from the troubling situation we all find ourselves in. So we are running the competition as usual, but with a difference.

This year’s competition is once again open to entrants worldwide providing the submission is in English and as always entry is completely FREE! However, we are encouraging all entrants to make a donation to a charity whose work can be seen to help those individuals, families and societies facing particular heartache over Covid-19.

We have provided links on our submission page to Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), Age UK and Meals on Wheels America but you should feel free to choose your own locally. We’re often asked for feedback on entries and so I’m pleased to announce that anyone donating £10/$10 or more can forward on their email confirmation (redacted as required) to us and indicate they would like to receive feedback on their short story.

The winning entry this year will receive a brand new Google Home Mini as well as see their story featured prominently on this site and shared across our social media channels. The winner will also be rewarded with a one hour session with the ‘plot doctor’, our manuscript troubleshooting service. There’s also runners up prizes of a free eBook from a selection for any shortlisted entries.

In honour of our Covid-19 charity drive this year’s theme is ‘Isolation’. You can interpret the theme however you wish, a character could be in physical isolation, or merely feel isolated mentally or emotionally. They could crave isolation when they currently have none, or they could be driven to distraction by it. Perhaps your character is on a one-man mission to Mars or to explore the Mariana Trench, their isolation could last for months or years, or perhaps just a few fleeting minutes. For more ideas and tips on writing to a theme, as well as our guide to writing a good short story, please see this article we’ve written especially for the competition. You don’t have to read it to win… but it can’t hurt right?!

So if you enjoy writing short stories, please do get involved and tell your friends.


Image may contain: sky, outdoor and
        nature, possible text that says 'National Trust @nationaltrust
        We' re aiming to open many of our gardens and parks for free
        during this difficult time, so the nation can use open spaces to
        relax and refresh, while following the government's social
        distancing guidance. We will be closing our houses, cafés and
        shops this week.'

Keeping Perky!

Blog About Writing

Hello, I’m back and since I last posted (on 4th March) everything’s gone a bit weird, hasn’t it?

Anyway, let’s not dwell on that now but remain bright and breezy and PERKY!

Here are some distractions and nice things that you might like to read or do:

1. Free Novel-Writing Course

Amanda Reynolds, who writes psychological thrillers and is always very generous with her time and support for other writers, is offering a free novel writing course via her blog, to include practical exercises, tips and advice. The first part is on there now.

2. Evesham Festival of Words competition

Like many festivals, Evesham has already cancelled and postponed some events and will no doubt have to cancel many more BUT the short story competition is unaffected. Hurrah! And there are just 2 days to get your entry in. Closing date is Friday 20th March (at midnight GMT). The adult…

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International Women’s Day – interview with British Horror Writer Stephanie ELLIS

An interview with horror writer Steph Ellis on her writing journey into the darkness and what lies beyond

Janine's Ghost Stories

Today is #InternationalWomensDay, so it seems only fitting that I include a lovely lady as part of MY British Horror Month feature.

I proudly present to you, Stephanie Ellis …

Hi Janine, firstly I’d like to say thank you for inviting me to your blog. I had a quick look round your site although I must admit I spent my time looking at your bookshelf pic to see what you’d been reading! It reminded me I need to pick up C.J. Tudor’s new book – I loved Chalk Man.

From that you can gather I get somewhat distracted by books, reading is a passion of mine and I’m lucky enough to be able to indulge it in real life as I am a librarian in a secondary school. The powers that be haven’t noticed yet but I have been sneaking a lot more horror into my corner of the…

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Indigomania is out with my poem ‘Blue Kisses’ and the Aussie charity anthology Amongst Friends is up for sale on amazon…

Indigomania Truth Serum Vol. 4


Publisher Truth Serum Press

… 67 poets take on ‘indigo’

“The term “indigomania” was coined for the Impressionists’ “unhealthy” passion for blues.”
from ‘The essence of blue’ by Belinda Recio and Catherine Kouts

“… “One year one paints violet and people scream, and the following year every one paints a great deal of violet,” Manet remarked on a different occasion.”
from ‘Color in the Age of Impressionism: Commerce, Technology, and Art’ by Laura Anne Kalba


My story is Gone Fishing, a gentle nostalgic tale of childhood memories.

Screenshot from TOC Amongst Friends 2020-03-08 12-29-23



Colp:Black and Grey is out in paperback/ebook today:-


Screenshot from Colp 2020-03-07 12-53-06

And there’s my story second one down- Skin and Ink.

It’s set in America in the 1930’s, during the grip of the Depression. The tattooed protagonist lives with a travelling circus and the carnies, and is escaping an horrific past. Of course! There’s got to be horror in there somewhere.

I really enjoyed writing this story, it bloomed on the page fairly easily- not always the case at all- and when I read the Colp anthology call out details- I thought -‘What a good match!’ as they wanted stories where tattoos feature prominently.

I love the cover too.




An acceptance, a short list and royalties… a workshop in a cemetery and singing at an open mic…

Emerald Bay Books has an anthology coming out called Horror For Hire – filled with scary stories from the workplace and they’ve accepted my short story, End of the Month, End of the Line, for inclusion.

My protragonist, Frank, has a pretty hairy rugged skin crawling time of it at work when he’s blackmailed…

Preview of the cover pic:-


Shaun Peare got in touch with the results of the charity Wordsmag for the RNLI December competition- and my story had made the short list along with a few names I recognised like the writer/blogger Patsy Collins whose blog I regularly send writing folk over to.


So though I wasn’t one of the winners it’s lovely to get the recognition.

SHORTLIST:  Alyson Rhodes, Ashley Lloyd, Beverly Johnson, Carrie Hewlett, Denise Selvey, Fiona Stevens, Gareth Pugh, Helen O’Neill, Jane Robertson, Joe Giordano, Joyce Evers, Joyce Walker, Julie Achilles, Karen Rodgers, Mark Gale, Nash Waugh, Pamela Scott, Patricia Lowther, Patsy Collins, Richard Comerford, Rosemary Johnson, Roz Kendall, Sarah Crabtree, Sharon Boothroyd, Susan Rocks, Tabitha Carmichael, Tracy Davidson, Vannessa Bullock, Victorine O’Brien, Yvonne Lang.

Lately I’ve had the odd royalty payment, a drip and a drop, enough to buy a latte, but Gill James has been in touch to say I’m due a payment of over £10- which is a rather nice bit of news.

Gill runs Chapel Town Books and published Badlands and also I have stories in her anthologies, Nativity and Crackers which have sold rather well.

Crackers by [Hobbs-Wyatt, Debz]


Next week I will be teaching a creative writing workshop in my home town of Bingley inspired by the history and memorial architecture of Bingley cemetery (estab. 1870). When you start digging (excuse the pun) it’s amazing what you find in the archives.


photo of Bingley Cemetery



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I will also be headlining at David Driver’s Open mic night Gingerlicious Nights held at The Old Post Office in Silsden.


I must be mad – cos I’m singing (duetting with a mate who plays the electric ukulele) and reading my poetry.

It’s all for charity, ie Centrepoint so am hoping for a good turnout.

Though I’ve sung in choirs, I’ve not duetted like this in years- so it’s rather a bit jump for me and the nerves will be jangling along with the chords.