NaNoWriMo is here!

Ok so I’m a day late out of the starting blocks due to a horrendous cold, but I am on it starting from today! Though it’s not the norm for NaNoWriMo, I’m not starting a new project, but instead using this month as a tool to concentrate some more on Wolfrik. Of course, I’ll only be counting the words I add in from today!

Recently I’ve been doing so many short stories and been on a competition submission spree that I’ve neglected my main novel and so this feels like a good way to get back into it. Mixing it up feels healthy to me and so I think a solid month of novel writing will be refreshing after all those short stories.

If you’ve never taken part in NaNoWriMo before, then I urge you to check it out and get those creative juices flowing! It’s such a brilliant writing community and could be the perfect excuse to write that story you’ve always wanted to!

Short Story Competition with Top Prize of $5,000

Illustration by A. Hughes, from Sing-Song: A Nursery Rhyme Book.

Here’s another short story competition for you to sink your teeth into: The Short Story Project is hosting a great competition where 20 winners will be chosen! Top prize is $5,000, second prize is $1,900 and third prize is $950. Cash prizes are rewarded for winners who place in the top ten, with additional prizes available. The top five winners will also be featured on The Short Story Project. Entries can be up to a maximum of 2500 words but must be in English. The competition is open worldwide, with an entry fee of $17. The closing date is September 30, 2018. For more information and how to submit, visit the website.

If you’re after other short story competitions, there is the adult fairytale short story competition that closes on October 15, 2018, and Writers’ Forum hosts monthly short story competitions.

Masterpiece of Thrills

I picked up this book the other day, but haven’t had the time to post about it yet. As soon as I saw the illustration on the spine I was drawn to it. Titled Masterpiece of Thrills, this book contains a collection of sixty dark short stories by various authors and thirty illustrations. Although it isn’t dated, searching on the internet leads me to believe it was published in 1936.

The book itself isn’t in great condition; the cover is torn and discoloured and there are pen marks both on the cover and on some of the pages. There is foxing throughout the book and the spine is rather on the fragile side on the inside, threatening to come loose at any point that you open the book too wide. However, the book is still very readable as long as you’re not too reckless with it.

It only cost me £3, which considering the size and age of the book, I thought was pretty reasonable. The black and white illustrations inside are of a really interesting style, and of course, of a grim nature to suit the stories told.

At the rate at which I’m buying books, I’m going to have to invest in a new bookcase! When they are such lovely and intriguing finds though, I’d rather get them than not and regret it later.


Monthly Open-theme Short Story Competitions

Illustration by H. Stratton, from Songs for Little People.

If, like me, you’re currently looking to get your short stories published – here is a great opportunity. Writers’ Forum magazine runs a short story competition every month, with all types of stories welcome. Winners not only see their stories published, but first prize is £300, second prize £150, and lastly, third prize is £100. Short stories entered must be between 1000 and 3000 words. The entry fee is £6, or £3 if you’re a subscriber to the magazine. It’s a rolling competition, so if your submission happens to be too late, they will simply enter it into the following month’s competition. Anyone can enter as it’s a worldwide competition, but entries must be in English. Full terms and conditions and how to enter can be found on their website.

Additionally, for a further £5, you can receive feedback on your submitted story. You can also allow your entry to be used in a free workshop where, if used, it will be featured in Writers’ Forum. These examples are used to show readers how to improve their writing. All you need to do is state that you are happy for your entry to be used in your submission.

I like this competition for a few reasons: it’s monthly, so you can really get your creative juices flowing on a regular basis; it’s open-themed, so no restrictions there; the word count is quite generous.

If you’re looking for other short story competitions, there is the adult fairy tale short story competition by Writing Magazine, which closes on October 15th, 2018.

Great Charity Shop Book Haul

I spent way too much money today on books from the charity shop, but I fell in love with them all! The Oxfam bookstore is always a little pricier than other charity shop books, there were even a couple of books where the price made me think twice, but ultimately I bought them all. I didn’t want to regret not buying any, and they were all gorgeous books, despite some of them being a little worse for wear. They were also three for the price of two, so I can’t complain too much.

My young son was with me today and he asked me why I like old books as they’re “always ripped“. I hope one day he understands my fascination with older books! He was quite happy to leave with his pristine looking atlas book, whereas I left with my large bundle of faded, worn books that he had turned his nose up at.

I picked up the usual suspects that pique my interest; fables, folklore, legends, and of course, a healthy dose of Alice in Wonderland.

The first book I spotted, mainly because of its eye-catching spine, was My Book of Beautiful Legends. It’s a collection of stories from all around the world, retold by Christine Chaundler and Eric Wood, with illustrations by A. C. Michael. At £11.99, it was the priciest book I found today and given that it’s in poor condition and many of the pages plagued with foxing, I was on the fence about it for some time. In the end, this beautiful book won me over and found its way home with me. Having now discovered that it was published in 1916, I can see why it’s seen better days and I’m glad I bought it. It features some gorgeous colour illustrations inside and I love the range of short stories, covering things from Norse and Greek mythology, to well-known tales such as The Pied Piper of Hamelin.

King Arthur and the Round Table

The next book I picked up was King Arthur and the Round Table by A. M. Hadfield. A lot cheaper than the previous find at £4.99, but still a bit more than I usually spend. Once again, this beautiful old book wormed its way into my heart despite its damp spots and musty smell. Published in 1953, this book features colour and black and white line drawings by Donald Seton Cammell.

I also picked up Stories From Grimm: Stories Old and New, published by Blackie & Son LTD. Publish date is unknown, regrettably, internet searches give varying dates. It’s missing its dust jacket, but still has a beautiful cream cloth cover with dark green print. It also features some beautiful colour illustrations. For £2.49, it was well worth picking up.

The Ever-Ever Land

The Ever-Ever Land: Tales and Poems of Wonder, Truth and Surprise collected by Richard Wilson was a book that I didn’t know I wanted until I saw the vibrant, quirky illustrations inside and then I knew I had to have it. I loved the colour range used in the pictures and there’s just something really eye-catching and unique about them that I absolutely adored. £3.49 seemed like a decent price to pay for this beauty.

Last, but by no means least, I picked up two more copies of my favourite books! The first was Alice in Wonderland and Other Stories by Lewis Carroll, published by Odhams Press Limited circa the 1930s and featuring illustrations by Edgar B. Thurstan. It’s missing its dust jacket, which is a shame as looking at internet search results the cover looks gorgeous. At £2.49, this was an easy addition to my Alice in Wonderland collection. Finally, I picked up the lovely Alice Through the Looking Glass, published by Golden Pleasure Books in 1964. This vibrantly coloured picture book is in great condition and has some fantastic vintage artwork. It cost me £4.99, which is a little more than I usually spend on books. As I said before though, higher prices normally go with the territory of shopping in the Oxfam specialist bookstore and so I knew what I was getting myself into when I walked in. I’m just too spoilt by bargains found in other charity shops.

Overall, I’m really pleased with the collection of books I managed to find today. I’ll have to avoid the Oxfam bookstore for some time though, as it’s far too easy to spend money in there and I have bought so many books this month already!

Alice Through the Looking Glass

Adult Fairy Tale Short Story Competition

Illustration from “The Tinderbox” by H. J. Ford, The Yellow Fairy Book.

Writing Magazine is currently hosting an adult fairy tale short story competition! It can either be a reimagining of an old classic or completely original, as the competition states that the fairy tale theme is “fairly loose, admittedly“.

Word count must be between 1,500-1,700 words and the closing date is 15 October, 2018. Full rules, eligibility and entry form can be found at Writers Online. Entry fee is £6 (or £4 if you’re a subscriber to the magazine).

I’ve recently been writing different short stories based on fairy tales and folklore, so I thought this was perfect! But then I realised that the word count was way under what any of my recent shorts come in at… so it’s time to write a new one! Luckily, I already had a fitting idea lined up for my next short. I’ll just have to make sure I come in under the word limit to ensure it’s eligible for this lovely little competition.

Some curious charity shop finds!

It feels as though I’ve browsed through just about every local charity shop this week. Yesterday, I managed to pick up a few more books, including two worthy of mention. I am a massive Alice in Wonderland fan, and so I was really pleased to find the following:

A 1974 Alice in Wonderland Walt Disney Classic picture book with gorgeous vintage artwork. This beautiful book only cost £1.49, and in actual fact all the children’s books were three for the price of two, so I had an even better bargain with my overall haul. It’s in great condition and I really do adore the artwork style inside.

Secondly, I found this 1950 copy of Through the Looking Glass. The cover is a little warped and it has water marks on the back, but the pages inside are still in good condition and so its nice to flick through and see the John Tenniel illustrations. This one cost me £2.99, but considering I misread the pencil marking and thought it was £9.99, I was pleasantly surprised at the till!

Picked up some more books from the charity shop

Popped into town today and managed to pick up three books that caught my eye! I absolutely love books based on folk tales, ghost stories and fairy tales, so I generally look for these and the older the better in my opinion.

The first book I found was The Seventh Ghost Book. Regrettably, it was missing its dust jacket, but at £1 it was still a bargain! Originally published in 1971, this book holds a collection of spectral short stories by various authors, with the introduction by Rosemary Timperley. A quick google search shows there are other anthologies in the series, so I’ll have to keep my eyes peeled for any further finds!

The next book I found was A Pocketful of Stories by Lilian McCrea, all for the paltry sum of 50p! Published in 1959, this book is a collection of short stories about animals, angels, fairies and witches, as the spine states. It has some lovely illustrations inside and came complete with its colourful dust jacket.

Lastly, and a bit different from my other choices, I picked up The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. A far more recent book first published in 2012. Something about it just caught my attention and as soon as I read that the story takes inspiration from a Russian fairy tale – I was sold! Afterall, you can’t go wrong for £1.

Hard in Hightown has arrived!

Finally, my copy of Hard in Hightown has arrived! This short novel is written by the fictional Dragon Age II and Dragon Age Inquisition character, Varric Tethras (or in reality, Mary Kirby). Amazon has a funny “about the author” section on the book’s page, describing our favourite dwarven rogue. The “critic” quotes on the front and back are also by other Dragon Age characters, Merrrill and Hawke, which is an amusing touch too.

So many people get shivved!Merrill

The way the book is written definitely conjures up memories of Varric’s voiceovers in the games and so is spot on in terms of capturing his character and how he would write. The story is set in Kirkwall and features other well-known ideas and themes from the vast Dragon Age lore. Overall, it’s a tasty little portion of Dragon Age for fans starved of their favourite fictional world.

Though the book is a little shorter than I had anticipated, it has some wonderful illustrations and is still an interesting read. It’s a lovely item to have, especially for a massive Dragon Age fan, like myself. The pages have deckled edges, giving that “olde worlde” feel as if it really were made in Thedas. However the rather modern book cover doesn’t tie in with this, which is a bit of a shame.

New books from local Plymouth Authors

The McKenzie sisters have done it again! Local Plymouth authors Carmella and Alison McKenzie have released their new books recently, Blooming Grand and The Sapphire Heart respectively.


I had the pleasure of reading their first books, Haberdashery and From the Future With Love, last year and so when I heard they had released new books – I just had to pick them up!

Out of all four books, The Sapphire Heart is most definitely my favourite. A completely new idea from Alison’s first book, not only is it beautifully written, it ticked all the boxes for me and reminded me of The Goonies and Romancing the Stone. The main protagonists go on a treasure hunt with the help of a charming ghost, tackling their own personal problems in the process and finding a lot more than just loot by the end of their tale! It is a perfect blend of romance, adventure and the supernatural and I implore you to read it if this sounds like something you’d like!

Whilst Blooming Grand can be read as a completely standalone novel, it shares similar themes and has many nods to Carmella’s first book, and even features a cameo from one of the much-loved characters of Haberdashery. This book is a fantastic blend of real-world meets fantasy world. The real-life elements of the story are so well-written, so natural and so easy to relate to that it makes for really easy reading as the characters are very believable. Blooming Grand features more magical mischief than its predecessor, which I loved, and the character of Merry was a personal favourite of mine.

I’m always keen to support new authors, especially local ones, so please check out their website and have a gander at their brilliant books.