Spooky Writing Competition: Update

Earlier this year I posted about a writing competition run by Swansea and District Writers’ Circle, with winners receiving cash prizes and inclusion in an anthology to be released later in the year. I’m pleased to announce the anthology is now ready to go!

Dark Gathering: Tales of Horror and Mystery will be available as an ebook and paperback on Amazon from Saturday, October 15 – in good time for Halloween!

dark-gathering-coverAnthologies resemble the very best pick and mix, something for everyone. This book, compiled by experienced editor, widely published writer and Swansea Writers’ Circle member Gail Williams, is exactly that. A rich medley of short stories, poetry and scripts, some penned by newcomers, others by well-known writers, set alongside the work of the winners of our annual short story, script and poetry competitions. Swansea and District Writers’ Circle has proudly nurtured many to publication in its more than half a century. We hope you enjoy this book of horror stories. Inside may be the first offering of the next Stephen King. Like all of us, he had to start somewhere.

The Circle’s last anthology Unforgotten: The Great War 1914-1918 (Accent Press) won the Denise Robertson Group Anthology  prize, which is presented annually by the National association of Writers Groups – so we have high hopes for this latest collection!

Many thanks to Gail Williams and everyone who contributed to the book’s production (not least Millie and Pearl, who’ve taken a break to allow me to promote it here). For anyone who’s interested, my contribution Haunted by the Future tells the story of sceptic Sidney Lotterby, who gets his spooky comeuppance for trying to put his psychic sister out of business.

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Pet of the Week – Storyhounds – Millie and Pearl with their companion author Annabelle Franklin

Thank you so much, Sally, for making us your Pets of the Week!

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

Pet of the week

Today we meet Millie and Pearl who live with Annabelle Franklin… The Storyhounds


Millie is a beautiful brindle Lurcher I adopted as a puppy from Greyhound Rescue Wales in 2004. She was one of a litter of five living in the back of a transit van with their Greyhound mother. The owner didn’t want them because they weren’t pure Greyhounds and wouldn’t make him any money.


I know all owners think their dogs are special, but there really is something magical about Millie. As a friend put it, when you look into her eyes you see a soul looking back at you. Like many sighthounds she spends a lot of time sleeping, and I often imagine her visiting the astral plane, hunting down ideas for my children’s fairy tales and supernatural stories. She has a sense of humour too, which is helpful as I like to inject humour into my…

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One Foot In Storyland

“A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity.” – Franz Kafka

Literary LurcherAs a Literary Lurcher I love to write, but I can only do it through Annabelle, via smellepathy. When Annabelle is busy writing her own stuff, I don’t get to write much at all. That’s when my Dark Side comes out and I’m rude to other dogs on walks.


Annabelle acts crazy whether she’s writing or not. When not, she’s miserable and bad-tempered, but while she’s working on a first draft it’s a whole new kettle of crayfish. She wanders around in a daze, occasionally muttering or laughing to herself, unable to focus on the simplest task. One minute she’s preparing food for me and Pearl, the next she’s rushing back to her desk to scribble a snippet of dialogue and we have an anxious wait until she remembers she’s meant to be feeding us. We know it’s hard to concentrate on practical matters with one foot in Storyland, but there’s only so much we can put up with.

Err... isn't there something you forgot to do?

Err… isn’t there something you forgot to do?

Annabelle has been writing the first draft of her new book since May and from what I can gather she’s nearly at the end. Not that this is any guarantee she’ll finish it anytime soon. As she puts it, the only thing harder than starting a book is finishing it.

We hope the cuss word isn't part of the story!

We hope the cuss word isn’t part of the story!

A famous writer once said that a first draft is mostly rubbish. We can see his point.

Werewolf pic: Werewolf Red by Dypsomaniart

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Pet of the week – Author and blogger Ani and her muse and mentor Sue Vincent.

Ani, we love your work!
(Please leave comments on Sally’s site)

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

Pet of the weekToday my guest is a little black dog who is an author and blogger in her own right. Ani Vincent has a face full of character.. probably laughter lines, and her observations on humans is spot on. First a look at one of her books Laughter Lineswhich was transcribed from dog into human speak by Sue Vincent.


One of the reviews for the book.

What a perfect book to place on your coffee table! This collection of poetry is cleverly written, carefully planned, and hilarious. The author writes on a range of subjects seen from the perspective of a small dog and her owner. They muse about common activities like gardening, eating and cleaning. Some go back to explore history like “Homage” and “Sweet Briar” which discuss The Magna Carta and Snow White. Don’t know what…

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Things I’ll Never Say When I’m Old Part 2: Millie’s List

“I’m getting too slow for zoomies on the beach.”

“Why chase rabbits when we get perfectly good meals at home?”

Femme Fatale“These young bitches can be so unladylike.”

“In my day we only got leftovers to eat.”

“Since when did dogs need psychologists?”

bef10f947d4fd653cab42a76ce0a9f57“I remember when a dog had to work for a living.”

“I seem to live in the vet’s these days.”

“Poo bags? What’s that all about?”

Beautiful Millie 3“When I was a pup, dogs did not wear coats.”

“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”

What d'you mean, "when" you get old?

What d’you mean, “when” you get old?

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Message from Annabelle: Things I’ll Never Say When I’m Old

If you ever hear me saying any of these things, please feel free to kick my ass:

“I’m *****-****!” (*Whatever massive age I am, announced proudly, with a flourish)

“When you get to my age, all you do is go to funerals.”

“Old age doesn’t come alone.” (Followed by graphic description of ailments)

spinster-156097_1280“No one wants you when you’re old.”

“I don’t understand all this new-fangled modern technology.”

“I remember when all this was fields.”

“I don’t know what the world’s coming to.”

“All this pop music is just noise.”

“Young people today have no respect.”

“I’m too old to try new things.”

“If I’m still here next year…”

“Why are young people always glued to their phones?”

“What exactly is the point of Pokemon?”

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Too Many Pee-Mails

We storyhounds are an invaluable resource for writers of fairy tales, fantasy and the supernatural because we can astral project to other dimensions and bring back vital nuggets of information.

Astral grey

Working alone, a single storyhound – or even a pair – can only gather a certain amount of material, so it’s important to exchange information with other hounds working in the same field. That’s where pee-mails come in.

M and P in Ilston Woods 2

We build our network by subscribing to messages from other storyhounds with similar interests. We pick up the pee-mails when we’re out and about, and pass the information on to our author humans via smellepathy.

When Annabelle was writing Gateway to Magic and The Slapstyx, we gathered facts about fairies…

Ilston May 005

…and mermaids.Hovis 003

Now Annabelle is writing a supernatural story, we’ve started following hounds who explore the spirit world.Graveyard Fairy

Lately, though, we’ve run into difficulties. We’re following so many storyhounds that our pee-mail inbox is overflowing and we have to check virtually every blade of grass. It’s all too easy to be distracted by material that has no connection with our specialist subject, and we’re even getting messages from dogs who just want to sell us stuff.

I'm sure this is spam

I’m sure this is spam

This deluge of pee-mail slows down our walks considerably. It also slows down Annabelle’s writing as it takes so long to sift out the relevant information for her research.

Ilston Cwm 009Ilston Cwm 003Ilston Cwm 019

 So our message to the dogosphere is, don’t feel bad if we don’t follow you. It doesn’t mean we don’t like you, but there are only so many pee-mails we can read in a day.

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