From there to here

I’ve had to write a bio for something I’m working on and it’s made me consider how I got into this writing lark in the first place.

Like many other people, I became interested in writing creatively at school and seemed to excel at it. I had a very encouraging teacher, which helped. I was also a very keen reader as a child – I would read anything and everything I could get my hands on; even the cereal packets at the breakfast table.

But I didn’t get into writing for a living in the conventional way. Actually, I never seem to do things in the normal way! Most people these days take their A’levels in the sixth form and go onto Uni; studying English, or Creative Writing, or Media Studies or something relevant. Instead, I did a business studies course, started working at 16 and a half in a variety of jobs and studied English A’level at night school. Some years later I enrolled on one of the writing correspondence courses of the type you see advertised in magazines, so for a couple of years I was doing assignments with my tutor on short stories, articles, life writing and more. At that time I found I was better at the non-fiction pieces and started writing for a church magazine and speculatively for a couple of local publications.

Not long after, I was working for a local community magazine as a reporter and editorial assistant, progressing to Editor which was more of a case of being in the right place at the right time I guess. Since then, I have been a writer and editor for a number of publications and organisations, as well as a freelance copywriter, PR consultant and editor, whilst also cutting my teeth as a children’s author and short story writer. My writing career has spanned 25 years and I have earned a good living through writing/editing everything from adverts and press releases through to features and website copy.

More recently, I have concentrated on writing fiction; so far it hasn’t been nearly as succesful or lucrative but I’m working on it.

I’m hoping that my unusual introduction to a writing career will inspire others. Yes, of course it would have been easier to do that degree at the beginning of my career but, I’ve trained and learned as I have gone along and had a rich and varied life to draw upon for subject matter. The most important thing I have learned is that if you really want something, you must have self belief that it can happen.


Hello January

I realise I am a bit late to the party, with most writers having already done their writing resolutions, but I have been considering my aims and plans for this year.

I have been finding getting back into the writing particularly difficult this month. It is possibly because I gave myself a whole week off around Christmas, which must be a first, as previously I always had a number of writing projects on the go and used to be up against a lot of deadlines. Since I gave up the business of writing and editing for others to concentrate on fiction, there hasn’t been such a sense of urgency. So far this month, I have managed to submit a piece to be considered for an anthology, have entered one writing competition and have done a bit of work on my third novel, but that’s it. I suffer a bit from SAD syndrome this time of year so I have to push myself, otherwise I might easily go into hibernation until the weather is warmer.

But my plans for this year include trying to publish my first children’s novel in paperback, attend some writing events, write lots more short stories for both adults and children, start writing a children’s picture book, brush up my social media skills, travel a bit for inspiration, plus catch up with some old friends I haven’t seen for a while.

Good luck to everyone with their resolutions, and please feel free to ask me how mine are going and give me a shove!


Like buses …

Do you know the saying that relates to the coming along of buses to a bus stop, or am I showing my age? Nothing – a dearth – and then they come along in threes.

Well that’s been the case with my writing. November started with me beginning my third children’s novel using #NaNoWriMo as a motivator. And yes! Success! By yesterday I had finished the first draft. it wasn’t the mammoth task of 50,000 words that many other writers were undertaking but instead, I had set myself the goal of 15,000 words, or around 500 words a day. I stuck to it, only failing on one day by writing 200 words, but I caught up the next day. So that was morale booster number one.

The second came with winning my writing group’s end of term competition announced on Thursday. I am a member of The Writers’ Study, a small group of writers in Dorset, meeting near to where I live. I’d written a short story based in World War One, as this had been much in my thoughts with the recent commemorations.

By coincidence, a couple of months ago, I had submitted a short story set during the Second World War to the Blandford Rotary Open Short Story Competition. It had been an afterthought but I thought, well ‘you have to be in it to win it’ so it was worth a try. I’d heard I had been shortlisted a few weeks ago and then last night, the readings and announcement of the winners took place at an event put on by the Rotary Club. To say I was surprised to win is an understatement. But win I did and the Mayor of Blandford presented me with my prize and certificate.

These little wins make the writing worthwhile and here is an image from last evening. I’m the one with the blonde bob.

Fiction writing and events

Recently I went to an event along with two other members of my writing group @vivmillera and @mapike2013. It was run by the Dorset Writers’ Network at the Arts University of Bournemouth. The best aspects of the event were that a) it was free and b) you got a chance to meet with other writers.

I really enjoy meeting up with other scribes and hearing what they’ve been working on;  whether they are old hands at this writing stuff, or whether they are completely new to it and finding their way. The age range comprised Uni students in their twenties to octogenarians, and quite a few in-betweenies like me, proving age is certainly no barrier to writing.  It was a pleasure to bump into Tracy Baines and Gail Aldwin and a few other people I knew.

As a bonus, there were two mini workshops; one by Maria Donovan looking at how to pitch your novel to agents and publishers and the other by Peter Roe about using modern media (smartphones) as a device to move on your story, rather than by face-to-face conversation. This is the session I had picked and it certainly gave me food for thought.

At the book sales table I met Kathy Sharp, who was doing a grand job selling other people’s books as well as her own. I hadn’t realised how many she had written. I fear I can never come away from a book sale or shop without buying something, so I finally decided on Maria Donovan’s intriguingly entitled novel The Chicken Soup Murder. I’m a sucker for a good title! The last book I bought based on its title alone was Game of Scones by Samantha Tonge, which I enjoyed. And, though I have only got through the first few pages of Maria Donovan’s book, the beginning is excellent.

Of course, attending workshops and events means there is less time for the actual writing but, I always come away inspired, and ready to do battle with the computer keyboard again. Happy writing!

A little story success


The life of a fiction writer has many ups and downs. Fear of failure, too many rejection slips, apathy by family members towards your creative output, and more can bring you down.

However, just once in a while there is a little success to keep you striving. On Saturday I heard I had won the Bournemouth Hospital Radio Bedside Children’s Short Story competition at an event at the radio station. Along with three others, a recording of my story was read over the airwaves and the winner was to be announced at the end. It’s an annual event and I was shortlisted last year so had visited the same studio.

This year I wasn’t feeling at all confident about my entry Secret Visitor, which is about a little girl who goes to stay in a big old house with her aunt and uncle and sees a ghostly cat. When I was announced as winner I was shocked and rendered speechless. I had to pour myself another glass of red wine. Luckily I wasn’t driving! (My thanks to Geoff.)

Two of my fellow members of the Writers’ Study group in West Moors, Dorset were also shortlisted – Maryanne Pike, and Vivienne Arkell, who couldn’t be with us as she is doing an epic Land’s End to John O’Groats (LEJOG) walk. It made it extra special to be among friends. So, in the pic you can see three of the four finalists. As well as Maryanne (left) and myself (centre) is Caroline Hall who attends another Dorset writing group.

I will try to remember this little success when I get my next rejection slip!

Magic in the Attic


Goodness, is it so long since I last posted in my fiction word blog? Wow!

Maybe there hasn’t been anything really exciting to write about, but this week there certainly is. I have just published my first children’s book for kindle on Amazon. It is called Magic in the Attic, and I am embarrassed to say I have been writing it for 18 years. Not constantly you understand. For many years it was in a cupboard; then last year I got it out, dusted it off and started working on it again. Then things got busy with the day job so the printed-out manuscript sat on top of the filing cabinet looking at me accusingly and in my head I could hear it say “When are you going to finish me?”

One of my copywriting projects got put back, so it was the ideal opportunity to use that time. However, I didn’t know if I would manage the technicalities of putting the children’s novel onto kindle. After a timely and excellent article in Writing Magazine, I had the help I needed. So on Tuesday I uploaded my book and the technology worked.

The book is aimed at 7-9 year olds and written as a traditional fairy book. I like to think it is fun and amusing, and I did try it out on two children, who enjoyed it.

So here it is. I’m very proud to say my daughter Fran did the cover illustration. Here’s the link in case anyone is interested in reading it:

I would encourage anyone else who has a book lurking in a drawer to do the same and finally publish it. It’s a great feeling to send it out in the world!


Following on from last month, I saw the new doctor with my weird symptoms, had blood tests and yes, as usual the test results all came back clear. I knew that would happen. Meanwhile, I’m still having moments of shakiness but at least certain possible causes have been ruled out.

On the subject of results, I’ve had a few of another variety over the last few weeks. Firstly, I have resurrected my manuscript of a children’s novel that I have been writing over the last 15-20 years. I have dusted it off and, am hoping to finally publish it electronically. Watch this space for further details.

I also got third place in my writing group’s end-of-term writing competition last month. It was judged by the lovely Tracy Baines. I received some excellent feedback from Tracy, which inspired me to enter the same story for an open short story competition.

More feedback came from a magazine I sent a story to. The Mudeford Magazine published my story called Fish Supper a couple of months ago and one reader contacted the magazine to say how much he had enjoyed reading it and even knew the two characters written about. This is amazing as they were totally fictitious! However, as a writer it is encouraging to receive such positive comments.6040671408_69807a2433_z


Doctor dilemmas

My lovely doctor from the last 22 years has finally retired after a period of sickness (his own). This has meant we have not had a consistent doctor for the last 6 months. Prior to the situation we now find ourselves in, our doctor has been amazing in treating family members for serious illnesses.

I must be honest – I tend to keep away from the medical profession unless I really have a pressing worry. I think I inherited this trait from my grandmother who avoided doctors at all costs. She lived to nearly 103, mind you. So, when eventually I am forced to go, I have tests and usually they can find nothing wrong with me. The symptoms suddenly disappear when I am about to go to the surgery. Does this happen to anyone else?

Anyway, we have had to find a new surgery and a new doctor. I have an appointment today as I have been experiencing weird symptoms, including having a voracious appetite. My best guess from reading on the internet (which is not wholly advisable) is that I have a thyroid problem or diabetes (both run in the family). But, you can bet that as soon as I walk through the doctor’s door, by some miracle I will be cured.

Wish me luck 🙂