A silver disc was rising in the darkening sky above the Cotswolds. I helped her over the stile, my hands on her waist. She let herself fall into me and she kissed me full on the lips. We always kissed here. She stepped back, smiled, but I knew this was probably the last time we would do this. In a month the road diggers would bulldoze where we stood and as one link opened another connection would close. We crossed the field. Ridge and furrow. Up and down. The moon was full, but every moon wanes. I wiped a tear.


This very short bit of Flash Fiction was an entry into the National Association Of Writers Groups 100×100 competition which ended 31 May 2020. It didn’t win.

The winning entry can be seen here.

Winner NAWG 100×100 Competition

Congratulations to them for a splendid effort. 


Photo credit: <a href=””>xalub33</a&gt; on <a href=””></a&gt; / <a href=””&gt; CC BY-NC-SA</a>


First of all congratulations to Simon Tonkin, winner of the Liberty Be The 80th Writer Competition.

His winning poem ‘Calais Plage’ can be found here.

Secondly – Damn! I didn’t win it.

I shall go and chew my carpet in the time honoured fashion and tell all who will listen how marvellous it is that Simon has won, and that he deserved it and secretly stick pins in an effigy I am even now crafting of him.

Oh well. Big smiles everybody!

Well done Simon. It is actually very good.

(I hate being magnanimous, especially in defeat.)

The cause is excellent and whether I won or not (didn’t- sulk) the whole project is extremely worthwhile and has more importance and resonance than ever given the ducking and diving our Government is doing over British complicity in CIA torture.

Well done Liberty – a pain in the backside on many occasions but all the more necessary for that.

Plans and Prospects

So where are we?

I am well over half way through Cinderella, my next cruel manipulation of a childhood favourite, in fact it is finished in my head and just needs the last bits putting on paper, putting away in a drawer for a couple weeks and then reading through. Then it will need a few bits I know about, and a few bits I don’t, rewriting slightly. Then I’ll think about what to do next. I have a couple of other fairy tale/pantomime pieces in my head – Hansel and Gretel and The Three Bears at least, that are bubbling away in the background – so I suspect I will wait for at least one of those to be finished so I can try putting together an anthology package for a hard copy publication rather than Kindle first.

In the meantime I have a commitment of sorts to write around 4,000 words for a group publication. I like my writers group but I am not certain that the things I write are necessarily appropriate or of the right length. The first deadline for this is the end of February so I am going to have to get myself sorted here.

I also have a commitment to speak at a military dining club event in March and I haven’t done anything about that yet.

Then there are a couple of short story and flash fiction competitions – Bristol and Bridport which have caught my eye. I think I have a couple of things written which would suit them very well. The closing dates are not until the end of April and May respectively so I have time to let the stories mull before I have a last read through and rewrite if necessary before submission.

I have a possible collaboration beginning on a historical novel which is an interesting idea for a project. It is a departure for me both in terms of the collaboration and because I have fought shy of historical fiction. Being a historian I have to work hard not to nitpick when I read it and it has made me somewhat shy of attempting it myself. We’ll see.

I have several other novels on the go but I am beginning to fret that they are somewhat formulaic at least in general subject matter if not in style. So although I have more than enough to keep me busy, I am looking around for some material for inspiration, if only to make notes and/or a skeleton idea for future work. I suppose part of the problem (if it is a problem) is that I do tend to write what I know (although I am not now nor have I ever been a Wolf of indeterminate legal status). This means that there is a lot of legal/intelligence/police based writing. All good stuff but I fancy a slightly different take on writing, as well as, not instead of, my existing themes.

So my main plan for the next few months is to finish Cinderella, fulfil my outstanding commitments, push on with the two or three novels I am already into and remain open to new ideas.

I’ll probably get hopelessly sidetracked but as long as I remain sufficiently on track to keep the existing projects moving along I’ll be content. Finishing a couple would make me very happy. Getting one or two published will make me ecstatic.


Having spent a little more time researching, ie idly roaming the internet for, the available outlets for short stories, I have discovered a few more with higher word count limits. This may have turned into something of an obsession but the short stories I enjoyed, and still enjoy reading are generally longer than the 1,500 average that seems to be the norm now. It’s like the difference between scoffing a bag of crisps on the run and having a perfectly cooked omelette in a great café or small restaurant. Neither is the same as the full multi course dinner that is a novel, but the one will give you that sensation of perfect small meal while the other is definitely a snack to tide you over. Not that I dislike flash fiction (or crisps unfortunately),  but it doesn’t give the same satisfaction as a well crafted short story.

So outlets.

Mostly prize competitions which seems odd. The magazine outlets seem to be drying up very quickly.

I am talking about paid publication obviously. There are tons of opportunities on the web to self publish for nothing but I still think you generally get what you pay for and if you pay nothing…

I didn’t used to pay much attention to prizes, especially the smaller ones – pretty much for the same reasons Iain Banks said he didn’t much rate them – I hadn’t won any. Having been shortlisted for one last year however I see the point more now!

So my latest effort at a short story will probably be going forward for one soon. If I can address this in the same way I did the play last year I shall be happy. That is, to forget about it until the results come out. Time to be bitter and twisted then, not before.

And the Winner is… not me

NAWG 2013 Writing Competition 10 Minute Play

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same
you’ll be able to smile through gritted teeth
when in the winner’s place you see another’s name

Oh well – congratulations Bob Bishop whoever you are. Actually if it is Bob Bishop the author of  ‘A Tickle Amongst the Cornstalks’ he isn’t really a whoever you are. Lots of scripts written and performed. Not sure if that make the smile more relaxed or tighter.

I didn’t make it to the NAWG Gala Dinner so at least I didn’t have to deploy my losing Oscar Night smile in person when I didn’t win the 10 Minute Play Prize.

Still, it was nice to be short listed.

But I am a rubbish loser and will probably sulk for days.

Hey ho!