Why you should read this while on your plane to Spain

AfterGoya_Horitzontal_800x600My novel, After Goya picked up an excellent review over on Amazon.

Titled Read this on your flight to Spain, here is the review in full:

As a literary thriller, the plot doesn’t disappoint. A simple tale of baddies trying to steal a couple of paintings adds layer upon layer of intrigue as Cotelo follows the trail of subtle clues and curious characters, while simultaneously negotiating the murky waters of Spanish back room politics. The literary and artistic pretensions of the novel are laid on with a light touch, adding depth and richness to a good old rip-roaring tale of detective work.

Cotelo himself is a thinking person’s Columbo, dishevelled and disrespectful, with a keen nose for human nature. But he also has political and literary sensibilities, a dark back story, and a dash of sex appeal thrown in for good measure.

For many English readers, this novel will introduce them to an unfamiliar Spain. The traumas and divisions of the civil war still lie just beneath the surface even today. This dark tale of simple greed and complicated historical and political motivations places the reader firmly in that divided society.

As a page-turning thriller with the added richness of literary, artistic and historical settings, this was a very satisfying read.

You can check out this review, and others, HERE.


Cover of pulp boxing stories magazine

Are you ready to rumble?

I’ve updated the writing competitions calendar — which you can find via the dropdown menu under
CLUELESS, INK on the navigation bar above.

You’ll see that I’ve included deadlines for 13 competitions in February, including the biggie — the  £15,000 BBC Short Story Prize.

I’ve also included the Margery Allingham mystery fiction award , administered by the UK Crime Writers’ Association, which has its deadline coming up in March.

Best of luck and happy comping!

FREE Kindle story for Christmas


If you enjoy a good read over the Yuletide holiday then you may want to download my short story, The Modelling Man.

It’s FREE from December 23rd through to December 27th.

It’s a quirky, very English, Christmas story which I think you’ll enjoy. No snow, no sleighbells, no Santa, but it does have two wise men, cold turkey sandwiches, football and TV.

If  travelling on public transport over the holidays you could download it onto your phone, tablet, Kindle or other reading device; it will help pass the time, perhaps raise a smile, put you in a mood to enjoy festivities, and equip you with something to talk about at all those get-togethers you’re sure to attend.

You’ll find it on Amazon UK HERE. It is available at all Amazon’s stores. 6,200 words of original fiction for FREE.

Wishing you a very cool Yule and all the very best for the New Year.



IBooks for Mac

Kindle version on left with iBooks version on right.

Kindle version on left with iBooks version on right.


I don’t have a Kindle, I don’t have an iPad and, until a couple of weeks ago, I didn’t have an iPhone.

During the same week Apple launched Mavericks, the new operating program, I bought an iPhone 5. At last, thanks to the introduction of a new version of the iBooks app, I could at last read my novel After Goya on my Mac and on an iPhone.

Yay! At last I could see what iBook buyers could see.

Or am I really seeing what iBooks readers can see?

I downloaded my copy from Smashwords — as the author I can get a free copy — and opened it.

The formatting seemed ok, and then I noticed that the glyphs — those little graphical devices used to denote breaks in the text — which appear as they should in the Kindle version — had been replaced with asterisks. It looked like an earlier version. (SEE the photo above.)

Apologies if you have purchased After Goya from the iBook store and the glyphs are missing. I will endeavour to find out if and how this can be corrected. If, and when these are corrected I’ll let you know — you will then be able to download an updated version at no extra cost. I sincerely hope the missing glyphs haven’t spoiled your reading pleasure.

As you may know Apple’s quality controls for inclusion in the iBooks store are very exacting. Esther at Ebookation took a lot of time and trouble to get everything precisely right, so I was a little disappointed to see the glyphs had disappeared, and that the spacing between breaks and chapter ends is a little tighter than the Kindle version.

I understand from a few helpful Kindle readers’ comments that there are a couple of glitches in the text (a few missing tildes and one or two repeated lines of text) and, if possible, I will also correct these at some point in the future.

In the meantime I’m enjoying exploring the iBook store on my Mac.




In January I published a short story, Making Dance with Fruit, as a Kindle.

It is available at all Amazon Kindle stores.

As you know the story  was  first published in Barcelona, INK Number 5 and subsequently re-issued in the anthology, The Best of Barcelona, INK.

It’s a quirky story about time and space, and draws on my experiences of working with choreographers and dance companies.

If you’ve ever wondered how and why contemporary dance is created then this brief tale may offer you some small insight.

“It is given we all want more space in our lives. But when we have space we don’t know what to do with it, except fill it with rubbish. Why are we all so frightened of space? Space offers possibility, but for many, space equals emptiness.”

Here are links to the story in Amazon UK, Amazon USA, Amazon Canada and Amazon Spain.

Popes and Lightning bolts, Pancakes, Buried Sardines, Footballs, Hearts, Martyrs, Meteors, Babel-like towers and Fire on the Streets of the City


The Burial of the Sardine by Francisco de Goya y Lucientes


February 2013

Interesting series of events this past week: Carnaval; the Pope’s resignation; a bolt of lightning striking the Vatican within a few hours of the Pontiff’s announcement; the celebration of Santa Eulalia (Barcelona’s other patron saint); Pancake Day (Shrove Tuesday); Ash Wednesday — the beginning of Lent (la Queresma), the burying of sardines and Real Madrid vs. Man. Utd.; Valentine’s Day on Thursday; the meteor strike near Cheylabinsk, in the Russian Urals on Friday; FC Granada vs. Barça on Saturday; and on Sunday: human tower building (castellers) and the first correfoc (fire-run) events of the year.

What a week — what a week to be alive.

Spring is on the way.

Disfrutalo! Enjoy it!


The cover of Barcelona, INK Number 11featuring the shop window of the Negra i Criminal bookshop in Barceloneta

The cover of Barcelona, INK Number 11 featuring the shop window of the Negra i Criminal bookshop in Barceloneta


The 11th issue of Barcelona, INK — the city’s only literary magazine in English — is now out and about in bookshops across the city.

Price (paper): 6€ and worth every cent.

This special edition, timed to coincide with the very popular BCNegra, Barcelona’s international crime writing festival, features stories, poems and essays inspired by a crime theme — including work by distinguished crime novelist, David C. Hall, and the always very readable Michael Eaude, Matthew Tree and Jeff King, and very entertaining contributions from  a range of  Catalan, Spanish and German writers. It also features a contribution from myself—The TV Dinner.

It’s also available as a digital edition at Amazon SpainAmazon U.K., Amazon U.S.

Should you want to order a print edition via your local bookshop you may want to note this: ISSN 2013-4401.

That’s all. As you were.


I’ve UPDATED the Competitions Calendar page today.

I’ve added 10 more competitions:

— 2 non-fiction prizes, up to 7,500 words, each worth $1000.

— 1 short story prize for women writers worth $500.

— 4 science fiction (up to 17,000 words) competitions each worth $1000 with deadlines in January, April, July and October.

and 3 novel competitions (minimum 60,000 words) each worth $10,000 advance for Best Private Eye Novel and two Mystery Novel prizes: Hillerman Mystery and the Minotaur Press (US Macmillan)/Mystery Writers of America competition.

That’s all. As you were.


Well, here we are again, looking at writing competitions.

If you go to Clueless, Ink on the navigation bar you’ll see I’ve added a new page: Competitions Calendar—a comprehensive year-round list of 212 competitions. This total will change as I add more competitions to the list.

I haven’t computed the precise total of prize money involved, but it cannot be far off a million dollars.

The list does not include poetry, playwriting and screenwriting competitions but does include some prose and creative non-fiction prizes.

Which prize would you prefer to win?

£30,000, and loads of UK kudos for a 5000 word short story, or $20,000 and international visibility for a 100 word piece of micro fiction? Or, maybe £2000 worth of Scottish single malt whisky?

As you will appreciate it’s taken many, many hours to research and compile this list.

When I started out I thought it would be a straightforward task—simply copy and paste a Numbers ’09 table into WordPress…but no…I had to go back and start again. (If you know how to paste a Numbers or csv. file into WordPress I’d appreciate a few tips.)

The exercise became a test of patience, diligence, organisation and capacity for work, driven by pride and a sense of obligation to you—the reader, seeker of reliable information or curious browser.

Every link on the list has been tested at least five times—and I’ve researched within the rules of every competition to check for scams. And, I’ve run wider checks on t’internet to see if there are  any histories of maladministration etc.

And, while you need to be vigilant and careful with a few of them (for example, by entering the Family Circle US only competition you give a range of sponsors unfettered access to your email inbox and are required to give a promise to not write anything, ever, that may upset said sponsors) I think you’ll find they are legit.

Having said that a few outfits seem to bend the meaning of the term ‘competition’ to mean something more akin to a regular slush pile except that you have to pay a premium to be considered, and the ‘prize’ is either an advance against future royalties or the equivalent of a fee for the right to publish your story.

To illustrate this I’ve put links to Glimmer Train’s various competitions and to their non-fee paying standard submissions. Admirably Glimmer Train make the distinction very clear—others, less openly, do not.

As ever, an interesting exercise. There are competitions here for genre fiction and literary fiction, for novels, novellas, long short stories, short stories, short short stories, flash fiction, micro fiction, prose, narrative and creative non-fiction and essays.

While most of the competitions listed here positively welcome entries from anyone anywhere writing in English (though one competition welcomes entries in Arabic, Hebrew, and Spanish as well as English) there are quite a few with stickly residency requirements—do your research before commiting yourself. And, as ever, those pesky, sensitive Canucks throw in a few barriers to international entry. And why is there only one listing from Down Under?

There are a couple of prizes I should like to claim if only for the kudos of attaching my name to a well-known writer such as H.E. Bates or Bill Naughton—but the monetary value of the prizes in both cases is relatively small. When a teenager I read everything by H.E. Bates, except the Larkin stories, and I thought his short stories were fantastic. Similarly I was once reprimanded by my mother who caught me reading Bill Naughton’s The Goalkeeper’s Revenge under the bed covers—she wasn’t so much upset that I was reading but that I was reading what she considered rubbish—her instant assessment based solely on  scanning the illustration on the paperback cover. I cannot understand why the organisers of these two competitions cannot use the reputations of these two well-loved writers to attract more support and offer larger prizes.

I’ve reconsidered my earlier views on writing competitions—I now think that they could be helpful, within an overall personal writing development strategy, in getting more of your work seen and read by more people in more places.

You need to be clear about your objectives before embarking on a competition campaign—do you crave prestige? peer approval? increased visibility? introductions to traditional publishing nabobs? enhanced international presence? Or, more money?

It could be possible—with research, planning, craft, graft, organisation and a bit of stake money—to earn an annual income of, say, £15,000 by applying yourself to the competition treadmill. Must surely beat hanging out on the Authonomy message boards? Hard work and a lot of luck involved—but it must be possible.

It’s as well to be aware that most competitions have an agenda—and that agenda doesn’t always coincide with recognising or discovering, celebrating and promoting good writing.

It could be that a competition is concerned solely with sustaining the memory of a loved one; or a supposedly talented yet overlooked deceased writer; or rehabilitating a formerly celebrated popular writer now overlooked by contemporary writers and critics.

Or, the competition’s agenda may be concerned to promote a way of thinking or a way of being. Thus we have august institutions such as the Royal Society of Literature promoting an idea of English literary virtues (and, by ‘English’ read metropolitan/Home Counties and Quisling provincials and colonials), and The Cesar Egido Serrano Foundation wanting to “unite peoples by using words in the languages in which the three monotheistic religions of the world express their religious feelings.”

Having said that I have been surprised by how few competitions there are which are pushing a multi-cultural agenda.

Often a competion’s agenda is formed by commercial imperatives, i.e. to gain more visibility and status for the hosting organisation’s sponsor(s). And a good few competitions are organised by writers’ groups, non-profits, NGOs and charities by way of raising cash and potentially increasing their membership or donor lists.

So, if you’re not happy with helping to promote causes outwith your moral or ethical world view, then ask of every competition “who ultimately benefits from my participation?”

You’ll notice when you visit the Competitions Calendar page that I’ve added a Donations button. If you find the information useful then please make a donation—it will incentivise me to spend more time keeping all the Clueless, ink pages up to date. I’m not out to make money—only looking to raise a contribution towards hosting fees and subscriptions to journals and organisations from where I extract the information which I then pass on to you. I’m sure you understand my need to do this.

If you intend to enter any of these competitions then best of luck—and if you have any success then please report back. And, as ever, if you know of any competitions not listed, then do please let me know. Thanks.



Weird Tales November, 1937: The Living Buddhess


Since starting the process of cleaning up and updating and moving links from the old Clueless, ink Blogger blog to the Clueless ink pages here I realised that there is no easy way for you to know when new links have been added or changed.

There are still many, many more links to be posted into pages here.

So, to save you the bother of repeatedly checking the pages for any changes I will make a note of the date of the most recent update at the top of the page below the title in bold and post a note in the blog. And I’ve created a new Updates category — which you’ll see in the top right of this post. And, if you wanted you could click on the category and all the posts mentioning updates will appear.

For example, today I’ve added a new link to the Indie Authors & Publishers page. If you look at the page you’ll see today’s date and you’ll see I’ve added a link to the Alliance of Independent Authors.

Hope that helps you in your search for reliable information.

That’s all.

As you were.