Sunday, 18 December 2011

A certificate of competency

I was thrilled to receive my certificate from the British College of Journalism the other day. I have been doing a distance learning course for the last six months with the college and have learned so much as a result.

Before I started the course I was really playing safe with my article ideas and would only attempt to pitch an idea to an editor if I knew a bit about the subject I was writing about. ( in my case it was chickens) I just couldn't move on from the the poultry magazines, although it has been great to have some success with them, I now feel confident to approach a wider range of publications with my ideas, which I hope will increase my chances of publication in the future.

The course made me step out of my comfort zone and tackle new subjects ranging from travel writing to approaching celebrities for an interview, though I did get a ticking off from my tutor for not spelling a celebrity name correctly. I had assumed that it would be the normal spelling and she pointed out that I should always check before submitting. Details like that are so easy to avoid and that mistake would have probably cost me the interview if it were for real as it would have appeared most unprofessional.

I have learned so much from the feedback from my tutor who also motivated me to send things off. I am bursting with ideas for 2012 now and have one article pending publication as a direct result of this course. I also had an acceptance from a local newspaper but at the last minute they said they had no space which was disappointing but it has not deterred me in trying again.

If anyone is thinking about doing a course, I would certainly recommend this one. For me, distance learning is a great way to learn if you have to juggle time with daily life and work. It's also suitable for different types of writers. For those new to writing, you get to learn all sorts of techniques such as how to use quotes and finding new angles and for the more experienced writer, it could be the chance to try something new if journalism is something you haven't done yet.

I now want to put everything I have learned into practice and stay motivated even though I may meet a few barriers in the future. I am determined that even when I do get a rejection, I shall look at my certificate and remember that I am competent, it's not that I can't write, it's just sometimes not the right time or place for what I am writing.

That can only be achieved by trying time and time again, which is something I am prepared to do.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Red Kite - back cover blurb

Since deciding to release my novel 'Red Kite' onto kindle next year, I have re-gained my inspiration and learned so much in just a short space of time.

I visited the red kite feeding centre the other day and managed to capture these stunning birds on camera. The wonderful thing was that it gave me some fresh ideas to add to my story and breathe new life into it. I felt like I was watching them at times through the eyes of my central character so now hope that I can add some reality to a couple of the scenes that were written several years ago.

I am working on the back page blurb at the moment. This is something that I have found quite difficult, just like the synopsis, it's hard to sum up a story in a few words and I have already made a dozen attempts without a decent result so far. However, I will continue to work on it until I am satisfied and then hope to post it on this blog for comments (when I feel brave enough!)

I realise that I have a long way to go and so much more to learn. It has to be just right before I make the final decision to release it but that will hopefully come with the editing process. It may take some time but I hope eventually, I will get there.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Glowing with inspiration

I have just spent the most wonderful weekend at our Wrekin Writers annual retreat. This year it was in the most magical setting near the sea at a beautiful cove called Cwmtydu. The house pictured below was incredible and I had to be firm with myself to get some writing done in between walks to the beach and enjoying the splendid grounds. The company was excellent too and I have to thank my fellow retreaters who have helped and advised me over the last few days. I always learn so much from them just through conversations while working or over the dinner table in the evening.

It was such an inspiring time, even the journey there made me change my plans as to what I wanted to do with my time. I was going to write some short stories but as as we were travelling close to Aberystwyth we saw a Red Kite. It immediately felt like it was sign for me to do something with my novel 'Red Kite' which I had left for months after receiving yet another rejection from a publisher. I realise now that this was not the best thing to do and I am determined to keep on this time, however many hurdles I have to encounter. The good thing about leaving it for a while was having a fresh approach so at least this was a positive side to my self-imposed defeatist attitude.

It was so great to read it with fresh eyes and start working on it again. I managed to go through the whole manuscript and make some important changes to hopefully improve its prospects in the future.

My big plan is to release it on Kindle in 2012 just to give it a chance and feel like I am doing something positive with it. I think by doing so I can move on, perhaps even start writing a sequel.

Who knows where it will take me but I am going to give it a go.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Local Author Event - W H Smith

I attended a local author event recently at W H Smith in Wellington. These events are a great way of meeting other writers as well has hopefully getting a sale or two!

I was very lucky to be sat right next to my own Mom, Phylis Blakemore who wrote 'Gentlemen of the River - The last Coracle men of the Severn Gorge' We had a lovely time chatting to customers and although we didn't sell loads of books, it was a lovely experience.

Pictured below is local author, Catherine Cooper. She was launching her new book 'Silver Hill' and has already enjoyed enormous success with her Jack Brennin series which will be turned into a film very soon.

It was so inspiring talking to her and this was the only chance I had to get a photograph as she had a constant stream of customers queuing to buy her books.

I didn't have to fight any queues off but I did make one sale which was lovely and I always appreciate the fact that a person is willing to pick up a copy and pay me for it. But that's not what it's all about. It gave me a great opportunity to spend several hours browsing the shelves and taking note on which writers are popular at the moment and which publishers they are using. This is so useful when preparing for my own future projects as I even found a new publisher that I may try submitting to.

I came away with a mind full of inspiration, a notebook crammed with information and enough money to buy a copy of the December issue of Writers Forum which has an article by Wrekin Writers very own Julie Phillips.

To me that's a sucess!

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Writing for Parish Magazines

I am so thrilled to report that I have just had a little article accepted for 'West of the Clee' This is the parish magazine for Bitterley and surrounding areas and I feel very proud to think that the editor is willing to use my work.

I think small publications like this are so important. I love receiving it every month just to catch up on what is going on locally and now I feel really happy that I will be making a contribution to this wonderful little magazine, especially when the subject matter is very close to home. ( My next door neighbour who does wonderful things with his vintage tractor!) I shall report more on that next month, as I am hoping for it to be published in the November issue.

It was such a boost to my confidence to send something off one day and get a definite 'YES' on the very the next day. Infact, it was such a quick turn around, as I interviewed my neighbour on the Sunday, wrote the article on the Wednesday, sent it off on the Thursday and got a reply by the Friday! I really liked making myself work to a deadline as they needed contributions within a few weeks and that gave me great experience that may come in useful in the future, just to prove that I can do it.

To me, on this occasion, it's not about being paid lots of money (though that is nice!) I am just happy to be included in a lovely little publication that needs local contributers to give it life.

There must be hundreds of Parish Magazines out there that need contributions from local people. It's a great way of getting your writing out there and keeping the magazines going.

So, if you have a local magazine in your own area, why not give it a go?

Sunday, 25 September 2011

It's not about the money

I recently received a free 'Moleskine' notebook after getting a letter published in Writers Forum magazine. It's amazing how excited I was to get that through the post, as it was still a reward for getting something out there and published.

Writers Forum do not pay for letters to be published but this is such an incentive to put pen to paper and a great start to see your name in print in a major writing magazine.

Strangely enough on the same day I received an email from my local newspaper to say they are interested in a pitch I sent them for an article, they too can not pay me but somehow, it doesn't matter on this occasion, I feel that I would happy to 'donate' my work if they are willing to publish it.

It's a great experience for me as I have never had anything published in a newspaper and the original article was written with a magazine in mind so it takes on a different style. I am now trying to re-write the article in a more factual 'Newspaper' style. I never noticed that until I started my journalism course. I am guilty of being too descriptive and almost flowery sometimes, especially if I am writing about a subject that I am really passionate about. I tend to ramble on with my magical thoughts and descriptions forgetting that not everyone wants to read that sort of thing.

It is a great discipline to change your style, I am going to give it a go and fingers crossed, I may have my first newspaper article published in the next few months.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Sci-fi Chickens or a Horsey Horror?

I attended another great workshop today which was part of our usual Wrekin Writers meeting which was run by Julie Phillips ( on different types of Genres. It was a great way of looking at the separate things that make up a particular genre and the difference between them.

We got into groups and looked at several different genres such as Literary, Romance, Western, Horror, Sci-fi, and Crime Thriller and attempted to write down a short paragraph ( or some did even longer) in that style.

It was fascinating, especially when we then had to swap the genre with what we had already written and change it into the next genre. Our group had Literary and then had to change it to Crime Thriller, not easy but it was fascinating to work with different styles and learn about different genres.

I found it useful and certainly want to explore different genres with my writing, who knows, one day I might find the right one!

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Inspired landscapes - and the people of it

I have just been on a short break to New Quay in Wales, and returned home feeling like I am bursting with inspiration to write. It always seems to be places that inspire me to think up new ideas and this brief visit to one of the most beautiful and natural areas did the trick for me.

Above is the Black Lion - one of the favourite places that the famous writer - Dylan Thomas would frequent.

It soon became my favourite watering hole too, with stunning views across the bay, a peaceful place to sit and enjoy a drink and interesting features showing Thomas's connection with the area.

The Dolau Inn was equally inspiring and inside had many photographs of the writer. It was amazing to find that in the middle of the week it was so sleepy and quiet. I loved watching people, mostly locals come and go as they walked up the road past the Inn with the sound of the sea behind them.

The whole area of New Quay is dotted with connections of the Writer. This sign was right outside a white bungalow named Majoda. It's part of the trail which passes through many of the areas that Dylan lived and wrote. It may not be the original 'Majoda' but it is the site where Dylan was thought to have written part of the play 'Under Milk Wood' which was set around the area of New Quay.

Extract from 'Under Milk Wood'

It is Spring, moonless night in the small town, starless and bible-black, the cobblestreets silent and the hunched, courters'-and-rabbits' wood limping invisible down to the sloeblack, slow, black, crowblack, fishingboat-bobbing sea.

Shocking photograph, I just couln't get the focus but it was so atmospheric staring out of the window from the Hotel Penwig where we were stopping. This view mesmerized me and I couldn't stop thinking of this particular part of Under Milk Wood.

But in the morning, this was my view. I watched the sunrise over the bay, walked on the beach in the rain and came back to the Hotel Penwig to sit at my temporary writing desk.

It was one of those places and one of those times to put pen to paper and write something!

So I did! I scribbled ideas while I stared out of the window to that view.

I am now back home and working on two short stories, three articles, and scribbling ideas for the future, still being inspired by the landscape and the people of it.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

9 +11 = 20 Acorns

So many people all over the world are thinking about what happened ten years ago today when so many innocent and brave people died on 9/11.

It's awful not being able to do or say anything that makes any difference to the survivors of that day and those left remembering their loved ones. All most people can do is to say they care and remember with the rest of the world, the ones that died.

I went into the woods today and gathered 20 acorns. I thought I could plant them in memory of those who lost their lives in 9/11.

When they are ready to plant I shall nurture them and eventually re-plant them in some special places to mark the fact that I do care. They may not all survive but even if a few make it, I think it will be worth the effort.

That, unfortunately, is all I can do.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Mike Smith's short story workshop

I attended a wonderful workshop recently run by Mike Smith who writes as Brindley Hallam Dennis -

The wonderful surprise was that I was joined by a former member and Chairperson of Wrekin Writers and who is also the lady who inspired me to join the group and stay for over ten years - Sue Horder Mason. (

What an inspiring day! Not only the most lovely company but a stunning venue with beautiful scenery made up of of acres of pasture and hills beyond. Horses grazed, galloped and grabbed at the apple tree growing at the bottom of the garden. A gorgeous setting that was clearly on view like a wide screen TV as we sat and enjoyed great conversation and informative discussion.

We started by looking at the beginning of a story and how characters arrive in a situation that makes the reader want to know what happens next. Some of the examples were amazing and left no doubt as to where that character was in a particular place and time, which is so important in any story, whether its' a short story or a novel.

Next we went on to talk about location. Some writers may have the character or situation in their mind first, others like myself, may have a particular place where they want a story to happen. It was fascinating as we scribbled down ideas for places - I immediately put them with a person and from that began to build a story.

We also went on to look at individual style. It may be the tone and language a writer uses throughout a story or just the way they use grammar to get across what they want the reader to experience.

What was so wonderful about this workshop was how it was delivered. As we were a small group, we were able to have a real discussion around the table on every aspect of what makes a good story. The excercises we did gave me ideas that I would never of thought about if I had not been there and taken part. Now I want to progress those ideas and turn them into stories.

Brindley Hallam Dennis

aka Mike Smith

A truly inspirational writer and a wonderful host!

Saturday, 27 August 2011

The last customer

I spent a wonderful morning in Bishops Castle today. I went into a beautiful coffee house that was also a book shop and observed a tiny little market town thriving with locals and tourists like me, mooching around the ancient streets and enjoying a little sunshine.

On the way back we stopped for lunch in Aston on Clun near Craven Arms. Before going into the excellent Kangaroo Inn, we popped into the village shop next door. Today that shop closed for good.

Purely, by chance, we were the last customers ever. We had no idea and just walked in to find the shop keeper closing this lovely village shop for the last time.

Feeling compelled to buy something, my husband bought a bag of Maltesers and so that made him the very last customer to purchase something from that wonderful village shop. It was very sad, and for some reason we couldn't quite eat all of those Maltesers, just wanting to hold on to a few so we could remember how it felt - and tasted!

I had never been there before and will not have the chance to do so again but it made me think about all the chances that we have every day of our lives. Sometimes it's the last chance, or maybe it's something new that is worth pursuing, because we never know how long that opportunity will last for.

I felt quite emotional seeing a lovely village shop closing but I guess it may open the door for something else.

Village Shop - Aston on Clun, Shropshire

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Inspired by others

A few months back I volunteered to be one of the judges for the Doris Gooderson short story competition which is held every year by my writing group Wrekin Writers.

At first I felt a bit daunted, especially when yesterday I was handed even more stories to read, yet I am really enjoying the experience and I am determined to delve into the next pile with equal enthusiasm.

I have been so inspired by reading other people's work and really wanted to give everyone an equal chance. Seeing so much of other writers work made me realise just how much effort they had put into it. It also made me think that every time we send something off there is still that element of luck. It can depend on the mood of the editor and what sort of day they are having, afterall they are human. They may be moved by a story, it may be too personal to them or it may just not be right for them, the time or the publication.

It's a great experience to read these stories and although I am not a famous publisher, I can appreciate a good story and admire how a writer can create a short story and bring it to life on paper when a total stranger reads it.

I have spent a lot of time recently writing non-fiction so this has given me a real boost to start on fiction again. I do realise that the short story publishing market is difficult at the moment but so many writers are out there showing that there is still a market!

It's so wonderful how infectious writing can be. Inspiration can come from so many directions. At the moment for me, it's from all the wonderful writers out there having a go!

I intend to be one of them!

Sunday, 14 August 2011

The road is clear

So much has happened since my last post. Every time I wanted to write, something stopped me. My poor old horse was wrongly diagnosed by the vet and came within days of being put down - thankfully he's alive and kicking now, I injured my neck and had to take weeks off work and just recently one of my lovely hens died. To add to that I had terrible problems with Blogger not allowing me to comment on my own or anyone else's post. That is fixed now. It really was a pain as I like to reply and make comments when fellow bloggers have made the effort to say something.

I have tried during these times to get some writing done but I admit some of these things have felt like major hurdles. I just can't get motivated if I am feeling upset. I know most writers say it's important to write every day no matter what but I have to feel inspired to sit down and get any writing done.

Despite this, I have sent out a lot of work. My novel is with a few agents and I have sent my non-fiction idea plus a children's story to several publishers.

In the meantime I am also working through a freelance Journalism course which I am really enjoying. I signed up because I wanted to branch out into writing about other subjects than chickens and this course is certainly stretching me. I had to come up with a celebrity round-up idea for my last assignment and although I don't hold much hope of getting to interview any of the celebrities I selected, it was a good experience to complete the tutorial exercise.

My tutor has also made me feel a lot better in that she thinks it is good to specialise in some areas. I know most of my success has come from writing chicken related articles and for a while I felt a failure in not tackling other things but now I am striking a happy balance and pitching ideas to Poultry magazines as well as other areas of interest.

So far since starting the course I have pitched ideas for another three articles ( I admit one is about chickens!) The other two are completely different subjects one of which is looking hopeful and the other two pending. I was even asked by one editor how much I expected in payment. This was difficult as I did not want to show my in-experience by asking too little or too much. Fingers crossed she may feel I made a reasonable offer.

I really feel like I have re-charged my energy levels and feel motivated to get cracking on some new ideas as well as my existing projects. For now the road is clear and I intend to look far ahead and see what happens.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Magical Morville

I spent a few magical hours at the Dower House Gardens, Morville yesterday to celebrate the launch of a lovely new book 'Shropshire Butterflies' This beautifully illustrated book takes you through a whole year of the various breeds of butterflies in Shropshire. From cover to cover it feels like it's bursting with nature as each page reveals a glorious poem or piece of prose from writers spanning the country.

There was one contributor I was very keen to meet as it was only recently that I learned of my distant cousin Ruth Stacey. Ruth writes poetry and has a lovely poem called Hedge Brown inside this book.

It's amazing, as it was purely through 'Facebook' that we met and I discovered her love for writing poetry. I follow her fascinating blog called mermaids drown which is well worth a look at. See

It was so exciting to meet her. On paper our family tree shows us as 3rd cousins twice removed but now on meeting her, feel that we are certainly not so distant afterall. It was great to talk about our ancestors and learn that the same things inspire her to write as they do me.

From the left my Mother, centre Ruth and me.

The gardens are magical too and I can see why the writer and artist Katherine Swift who came to live at the Dower house in 1988 was so inspired to write the Morville Hours and her most recent book, the Morville Year. Katherine also has a contribution in 'Shropshire Butterflies'

The wonderful thing is that some of the proceeds from this book will go to the conservation of Butterflies. If you want to buy a copy and help our wonderful wildlife as well as enjoying this gorgeous book see to order a copy.

Above the Dower house gardens

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Second hand memories

I bought this lovely book yesterday from a second hand bookshop. It immediately appealed to me before I even opened the cover. I flicked through quickly and decided to buy it straight away.

It wasn't until I reached home that I opened it properly to find an old newspaper cutting and some scribbled notes on some very old computer paper. It was so touching to think that someone had left those clippings in there for over 15 years and I started thinking who was this person, they obviously like to work in the garden but like to scribble and jot things down too. I found it quite touching that I had someone's ideas and memories inside that book.

I shall leave them there and may add my own scribble to them over the years. My garden often inspires me to get creative. In fact I have just created a medieval herb garden and a mini Jurassic park! So, I may just add a few notes on that to my new creative gardening book.

That is the wonderful thing about writing, no matter how small or insignificant our jottings may appear at the time, it's so magical to think that they may end up somewhere quite unexpected in years to come to bring a smile to someone's face.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

The dreaming spires

I recently made a visit to Oxford and was captivated by the 'city of dreaming spires', a phrase coined by the poet Mathew Arnold.

There is such an incredible atmosphere there and creativity seems to wash over you wherever you walk. I popped into a tiny newsagent to buy a couple of postcards. The young lad serving was writing music on a scrap of notepaper while he tended the shop. Wonderful!

It was fascinting to hear conversations of the students as they came out of the colleges bursting with inspiration and talking of poetry.

The picture above is the Eagle and Child and is one of the most inspiring pubs I have ever been to. This is where CS Lewis and Tolkien would sit with other writers and discuss their work.

The plaque below is on the wall of the pub, just in the back room where they would sit by the fire discussing their writing.

I felt that I wanted to sit there and let all that creativity seep into my body. I felt the instant urge to write something myself so whipped out my trusty notebook and pen to start scribbling something down.

I started thinking about my own writing group ( Wrekin Writers) and how great it is to be part of a circle of like minded people in a group where you never feel foolish when discussing future projects.

It is so important to be able to talk to other writers, I have gained so much advice and inspiration from them over the years of being a member.

I found it amazing how places can really inspire me as well as people. Maybe one day there will be a plaque on a wall for Wrekin Writers . We have certainly left so much of our creative energy on the retreats that we have visited over the years!

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Things to do

I really managed to clear my Things to do list last week. It's a great feeling to tick off all my bits and bobs of and start a new one.

I started my Freelance Journalism course and managed to submit my first assignment which feels great. I really feel it will help me develop as a more versatile writer and able to tackle other subjects. My mind was a whirl on Monday morning when I received the first tutorial. I wanted to get cracking straight away but had to go to work. An unexpected half day and early finish on Friday was a huge help though and I was able to spend several hours on it, as well as coming up with future ideas.

I also did quite a lot of poultry related writing which has paid off too. My hens are going to appear in 'Your Chickens' magazine in the next few months after I sent a small pitch to the editor who wanted to know more and asked for extra photos too.

I carried out my first Internet interview with a complete stranger, again this is for a Poultry magazine but I felt I may as well tap into my interests despite trying to branch out into writing about other topics. Nothing wrong with writing about what I do know (well, at least until I know something else!)

I was very pleased with how it went as I was dreading asking the wrong type of questions which would show my in-experience but it went very well and I got some wonderful material which I have already pitched as an idea to yet another magazine.

I am still waiting to hear from my three main projects and the submissions I sent early this year. I have my novel, a non-fiction book and a children's story out at the moment. It's awful waiting but at least I am using the time generating even more stuff to send out.

So the beginning of a new week and a fresh Things to do list. Just hope I can tick a few more off this week.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Making the most of an opportunity

I have had the most incredible Easter holiday and feel on a complete high after a visit from Chanel 4 'Time Team' to our village.

The atmosphere was electric when I drove home on the Tuesday evening as there were film crew all over the place and the residents were coming out to watch the proceedings with excitement.

It has always been one of my favourite programmes and for more than ten years I have been watching the team dig a bit of history, so when they were on my door step, not only the fan in me came out but the writer too!

Of course I would loved to have interviewed some of the stars but they were incredibly busy and were constantly on the move, jumping into the Time Team vehicle to travel to different sites. They even got the TT helicopter out which circled my house several times. I was lucky enough to bump into Phil Harding and had a lovely chat to him. He explained that it is a job and although they are happy for residents to watch, people have to respect that they are working. I suppose it's similar for us mere mortals as even in my mundane job, customers have to book an appointment first.

However, by being allowed on site, I did get to speak to a lot of the other people involved and reckon I have enough material for an article with a different angle. I think that it is important to make any opportunity work for you and even if you can't get the big one, turn it into something more achievable.

To be quite honest I think I was so Star-struck that if any of them had agreed to an interview I would have been a hopeless mess anyway! That's something for me to work on in the future as my confidence grows.

It was hard to walk away from the magical surroundings of what is normally just the village green where the kids play football. Being allowed to watch the filming as the other stars enjoyed a pint of beer was a real honour and I left the place inspired with some amazing memories to use in the future as well as several ideas that I need to research for future projects.

I call that a result!

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Trying something new

I went out for a Chinese meal on Friday and my fortune cookie revealed this message pictured above. I got goosebumps when I read it as for some time I have been wanting to try some new things with my writing.

I have just enrolled with the British College of Journalism for a distance learning course. I hope to come out of it with a diploma in freelance journalism and more confidence to tackle new things. I am really looking forward to it as I think it will help me develop as a more versatile writer, hopefully giving me a better chance of getting work published.

I do tend to stay in my comfort zone of writing about what I know and love (my chickens!) and although there is no problem with this, I feel that I want to dip my foot in the water and see what else is out there.

My course starts in May so I shall get cracking with all the things that are outstanding at present to give me a clean slate to begin my new project.

As my fortune cookie says 'You never try, you never know!

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Timing it right

I had an unexpected half day off work today and raced home with the intention of doing as much as I could.

I wanted to start by following up on some of my submissions which I sent at the start of the year but on ringing every publisher, I was told that the person I needed to speak to was at the London Book Fair. I wondered at that moment if I should start attending and hunting these people down in person but then I came to my senses and thought not!

I know for me it was just bad timing and I am no closer to knowing what is happening with my non-fiction book or my novel but at least they could tell me that my manuscripts had reached them and how long I may expect to wait for a response which was at of some comfort.

I think it is so important to take all these sort of things into account when you are waiting for an answer. I had a great conversation with a lady who had purely picked up the call from another department and had nothing to do with the book publishing side, yet she was able to tell me that with events like the book fair, personal holidays and bank holidays, this is how it works and we may have to wait a long time for a result.

However, on a positive note I have spent the afternoon in my sunny little attic, scribbling down new ideas, ordered a few writing books, applied to join the Society of Authors and also looked into some writing courses which I hope will help me develop my writing skills in the future.

I reckon that is a positive result and perhaps I did time it just right!

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Never work with Children, Animals or Neighbours!

There is a saying that you should never work with children or animals and that has certainly come true for me over the last week. Brodie my pony pictured above is well and truly on the naughty step after his recent behaviour. He has almost certainly spoiled my chances of getting an interview for an article I wanted to write.

After attending Julie Phillip's great workshop the other week at our Wrekin Writers meeting, I felt really motivated to go and try some new ideas with my writing. I wanted to branch out into other projects.

I thought I had my perfect chance when I discovered a lady in the village has a very unusual hobby. Armed with note book I tracked her down feeling very exited with the material I may be able to get. Instead of an interview I got a severe telling off! She informed me that Brodie was escaping out of his field and into hers. I guess he thought the grass was greener. I was upset as she was clearly not happy which I do understand but every option I gave was not enough and we parted on very unfriendly terms.

For a while I pondered on the situation and thought I will never bother again. I thought it would be so easy with someone I know but my confidence dropped after such a horrible experience.

However a few days on I reckon nothing could be that bad even with a total stranger so my notebook is at the ready for my next willing interviewee!

Thursday, 3 March 2011

My life in books

I have really been enjoying 'My Life In Books' with Ann Robinson which has been shown over the last couple of weeks. She has interviewed many famous guests talking about which five particular books have made an impact on their lives. It's so interesting to see what other people love about their favourite books.
With the great difficulty at picking only five, I came up with my own list which is in no particular order as I have read them from childhood to present - all of them giving me back something very special.
1) Charlotte's Web - E B White - It taught me that we can find friends in the most unusual places and under so many different circumstances.
2) Nordy Bank - Sheena Porter - My love of history and the fact that this book was set around the beautiful Brown Clee hill which is on my door step fascinates me. I love walking up there and feeling the characters come to life.
3)The Lyonesse Stone - Craig Weatherhill - I love Cornwall and visited some of the sites where he had set this magical book. Again the ancient history of such a magical place captivated me.
4) Skellig - David Almond - I find it hard to choose just one as I love all his books, but to find a scruffy angel with broken wings at the back of your garage is pretty moving, so it go my thumbs up.
5) The Alchemist - Paulo Coehelo - Amazing book, it taught me to follow my dreams and realise that sometimes you do not have to look that far to make them happen.
Happy World Book Day!

Friday, 25 February 2011

What next?

I have a enjoyed a blissful two months of working part time on a temporary basis, getting home early and writing nearly every night. As a result of this I have finished all the projects that I had been working on for some time.

I enjoy switching from one thing to another, it's refreshing in a way as it keeps my mind active and hopefully more creative as I think we use different parts of our brain depending on what we are thinking and writing about so it's a great mental exercise.

Since working part time I have completed and submitted a non-fiction children's book, submitted a young readers story book and re-worked my novel which has now gone to an agent and another publisher. Although I may be sending all of these out again in the future if they get rejected, I may only need to tweak them and so now I can move onto something new.

It's fantastic to think I have a blank canvass to start thinking about ideas, some of which have just been scribbled down in a tatty notebook and put on hold for months.

I am back to my normal full time hours next week but am determined to keep up with some sort of routine with my writing habbits, even though I may not have as much time in the week , I can shift my writing time to the weekends again. I have so many new ideas that I want to try out and start working on.

All I have to decide is what next?

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Murder she wrote!

I have just reached a massive turning point in my novel 'Red Kite' where I have no option but to murder one of the main characters. I have been thinking about it for a while and feel it's the only way forward.

I have re-written it so many times and never seen this until now. I suppose it is easier if you have a murder already planned into a plot but in my case it wasn't until now. I didn't see it coming but have to do it in order for the final chapter to make sense and to have the depth of feeling that I want to show.

I feel guilty in an odd way as my character has lived in my head for more than ten years but his departure means so much to this story.

That is the most amazing and magical thing about novel writing as it can feel like real life where you never know what may happen from one day to the next.

Here goes - time to be brutal!

Tuesday, 1 February 2011


The 1/2 of February is a wonderful turning point in many ways and for many different religions. The madness of Christmas has gone and most people feel relieved to get through what seems like an endless January too.

Imbolc is an ancient Celtic festival which celebrates the first new signs of life. It roughly translates as ewe's milk, when the lactating sheep start to feed their new born lambs. This time is not far off. I was talking to a local farmer the other day and he could almost set the date of around 14th February for his ewes to start giving birth.

Although the winter is not yet over, new life starts to appear. Tiny snowdrops push through the hard ground despite living through the harsh weather of the last few months, just like these sheep feeding in the snow during last December.

It also celebrates the feast for St Brigit or Bride, the goddess who signified new life, birth, creativity and who also inspired poetry.

Just seeing a tiny snowdrop appear in my garden this afternoon inspired me to get creative and do some writing.

Happy Imbolc everyone! Get creating!

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

A New Record?

I think I have just broken a record! No not my beloved Slade Album from the 70's but the speed that I sent off a pitch for one of my children's stories to getting an answer back from the publisher!

At precisely 4.30 pm I sent of an enquiry email pitching my children's book and by 4.41pm precisely I had a 'Yes we will read it' email back! What a great service. At least I feel that I am sending stuff out again.

I know it doesn't mean anything but it did give me the feel good factor and so at precisely 5.03 pm my book had gone winging it's way to seek a future.

It's just knowing that someone is prepared to read your work that gives you confidence, it certainly motivated me into delving into my new 2011 Writers' and Artists' Year book to find a willing recipient of my non-fiction book which I am determined to get out by January 31st!

Here goes!

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Grow Your Writing!

I spent a good three hours in the garden this morning and feel it is true that any form of physical exercise also helps to stimulate the mind. I felt so inspired as I was clearing old rubbish and burning it to start a fresh new year. This is so similar to my writing too. The bonfire is about clearing away all the stuff that has been cluttering my space and having a nice clear desk to start getting creative.

Even though the ground was too hard to dig, I cleared the area and managed to find my vegetable patch that had been lying dormant for the last few months. With a bit of care and hard work, I raked away most of the rubbish and now have a fresh bed to start growing things. New ideas - just like when you have a clean piece of paper or a blank computer screen in front of you.

As I moved around the garden and noticed things, I felt inspired with all the new birth that is already starting to appear.

And even though the ground is hard as iron, new life pushes through.
As writers, we are just like a garden. Constantly growing new ideas despite the set backs and conditions we have to face.

As long as we put in some time and hard work to nurture our ideas, hopefully they will grow into prize winning specimens.

Good luck and get planting!