Saturday, 24 June 2017


In a bit of a rush… so here's the news in summary:

First in Federation of Writers (Scotland)’s Vernal Equinox Competition; Second in Neil Gunn Writing Competition (judged by Michael Faber!); Third in Aurora’s Annual Short Story Competition; Second in Flash 500 First Quarter (and the first placed story, ‘Rainbows for Coppers’ by Claire Whately, and the third placed, ‘Summary’ by Joanna Campbell, are both bloody brilliant so I don’t know how I got between them!); selected to read at Edinburgh Book Festival this summer; a story accepted for a nice anthology to come out later in the year.

Not a bad haul for now.

Saturday, 6 May 2017


Publication of 'Pushing Out The Boat' is always a cause for celebration. The launch events are so much fun and the magazine itself is so beautifully produced. I have said before how generous the editors are with the space, respecting writers' work and not cramming stuff onto the page to fit more in and so potentially sell to more people and their families. No this is a superbly produced combination of writing and art - and the art is so right for the magazine.

Unfortunately I was not able to attend the launch last weekend - and that was a shame because I have attended a couple of these events and they are always so warm and so splendid. However, yesterday my copy popped through my letter box - and I was not surprised by how beautiful the magazine was when I tore open the envelope - not surprised because I knew it would be something special.

I have a short story inside - in amingst the poems and fiction and artworks. And just look at the splendid cover!

Saturday, 22 April 2017


Passing on some news - I won the Plymouth Writers Group Short Story Competition - the second year in a row! Different criteria was applied this year, so it's pretty good to come out a winner again. Thanks to all at Plymouth Writers.

Here's a link to the story in case anyone is interested:

Having a good year so far with competitions - still with a success rate of around 40%.

Have also got a novel doing the rounds - though lots of great publishers have turned me down so far. My agent and I remain hopeful.

That's all my news for now.

Saturday, 25 February 2017


Today a new collection of stories dropped through my letterbox. I tore open the envelope and flipped through the pages immediately. There was a story inside that caught my eye – it’s title something a little familiar somehow. I read it without sitting down, almost without breathing.

It was familiar because it was part of a project this writer and myself had worked on nearly ten years ago. It was all her own part and not a bit of it mine – the published thing in my hands. But it also felt like it would not exist if it had not been that we had worked together on this - and we were in step then, in tune and in time with each other, synchronised. I am pleased that it is in this collection – a part of me is pleased; but a part of me is something else.

It made me recall the project we’d shared for six months and the easy effort of that time and the enormous promise it held, and I could see from this published thing that now it will be no more than torn scraps. The piece that is published and which is in the collection I hold in my hands, it is tantalizing and incomplete and – for me – a little sad… like a torn bit of cloth that holds a snatch of pattern, all richly coloured and jeweled, but ultimately a scrap only and something less than the full bolt of cloth.

I am old enough to have regrets - they should only be had by the old and they should be few - and I regret that this writer and I fell out and I regret that this project is confined to the darkness of history; this torn scrap is a bright and brilliant reminder of what it could be if ever it was unearthed again.

Friday, 17 February 2017


So, I recently did quite well in a competition – the H E Bates Short Story Competition which runs every year. I was placed third with ‘Mariska and The Bear’, and had another story on the ten-long shortlist. But better than that was that the head judge from the competition, Maggie Allen, contacted me to say how much she really liked my work, the writing, and how much she would like to work with me applying her expert editor’s eye to anything I had produced – only if I was interested. That was kind and unlooked for.

I have since sent Maggie Allen several stories, and each time her advice has been extremely good and acute in her observations and helpful in tightening some of my writing. And she turns things around in good time and she is kind even when there’s something in the writing that needs punished.

I know she is keen to pick up more work and so I am putting a link to her here – just in case you want to find out more for yourself. Maggie Allen is a professional ghost writer, which is nothing spooky at all. Check her website for yoursel

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Umbrellas of Edinburgh
Umbrellas of Edinburgh ed by Russell Jones and Claire Askew

So, here's a neat idea: take a city that is almost universally loved and beautiful and full of life; get a bunch of writers to write about it - poetry and prose; then stick everything into a nice book with illustrations. That's 'Umbrellas of Edinburgh' and it makes a great gift for anyone in love with the city or belonging here, or visiting or intending to visit, or having visited and wanting to remember.

There are some great writers in this collection and it is such an eclectic mix that there's bound to be something for you, whoever you are. I am so so so pleased to be in here - not just because it's good company to be in, but because I love the city. It has my roots (such as they are) and it has my heart. I walk around the city like a tourist but also with a sense of belonging - I belong to the city and the city belongs to me - and I am always smiling there.

Here's a neat review of the book that appeared in The Scotsman Newspaper… and I get a wonderful mention here, which is truly surprising and such a lift.

Go buy a copy and visit Edinburgh every time you open the pages.