Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Writing Resolutions!

I don't do New Year's resolutions anymore, I always end up disappointing myself. So I don't set myself any, then I can't be stuck in that neverending circle of beating myself up about things!

I do however set myself writing resolutions, because I know these are achievable and something I actually want to do. I suppose they are more goals than resolutions, but both have the same outcome anyway.

I've had a lot of ups and downs during 2014, deaths in the family, and mini dramas throughout the year. But 2014 also was the year I managed to achieve something I have dreamt of for many long years. I finally got an agent! I still get that giddy rush of excitement when I say it out loud. It's taken a lot of hard work and perserverance, but I got there in the end.

That's what brings me round to my first writing resolution, and the reason I came to the attention of my agent...

1, Enter more writing competitions. *Cliche alert* You've got to be in it to win it. If I learnt one thing from 2014, it was that putting my self or rather, my writing out there more gets results. Even when those results aren't necessarily what you were hoping, it still means you're writing is out there and being read by others, the ultimate goal!

2, Write more. Sounds so simple, but it's not always that straightforward. Day to day boring stuff like washing up and putting clothes away gets in the way of the interesting stuff like writing. I need to set aside a certain amount of time every day and stick to it. Or if I can't do that, set a small writing target each day. Even if it's only as small as 100 words, that's still 3000 words on an average month, and you can guarantee there will be days that you do double, if not triple or more than that.

3, Read more. I achieved this in 2014, but I'd still like to read more often. Like writing more, little and often goes a long way.

4, Finish editing my novel. I'm on the fourth round of editing now, after the initial proof read and note making, then an edit to tidy it up and fill plot holes, then trying to make it better. Now I'm trying to make it much, much better! My agent read it after my last effort and gave me some pointers, so I'm working through those. I initially had my usual 'Oh god I can't do this!' panic moment, and this still creeps up on me at times but I have to try and push those fears away. Fear is good, it makes us want to work harder and better, but it isn't a very nice feeling, you just need to remind yourself that you are good at what you do, and most importantly you enjoy what you do. Even those writers who have already achieved huge success have doubts! It's just our instincts for self-preservation kicking in.

Set yourself achievable goals/writing resolutions and be realistic. No doubt there are some that could write a novel in a week, but it's not likely to be easy for most of us. Start small and build yourself up. Doing the same thing for 30 days in a row sets it up as habit, so keep that in mind when you organise time to write.

Happy New Year everyone, and I hope that 2015 brings you all your writerly dreams, happiness and health! :)

Friday, 26 December 2014

9 days, 3 books, 3 films

People have been telling me for years that I'd love The Hunger Games, well, they were right! So much so that after watching the first film I downloaded the first booked to my Kindle the same night and read the book over the next couple of days. 9 days later I have read the complete trilogy, watched the first two films on DVD and went to the cinema with a fellow fan to see The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1.

It's rare that such a good book or series comes along that takes my interest in this way. I can count on my fingers over the years how many have. I love getting such a buzz from reading, it really feeds into my own writing and since finishing reading The Hunger Games I have gone back to editing my own book with renewed vigour! Good readers make good writers, reading informs and inspires.

So in your post-Christmas phase where life can sometimes feel a little flat, I thoroughly recommend reading! Escape to another world, country, planet. Live a whole other life and go on adventures you could never dream of by opening a book and jumping between it's pages :)

And if you fancy The Hunger Games, I give it a doubel thumbs up. The Hunger Games is a science fiction novel by Suzanne Collins. It's written in first person from the view of 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives in the dystopian, post-apocalyptic nation of Panem in North America. The Capitol, a highly advanced metropolis, exercises political control over the rest of the nation. The Hunger Games is an annual event in which one boy and one girl aged 12–18 from each of the twelve districts surrounding the Capitol are selected by lottery to compete in a televised battle to the death. The Hunger Games is punishment for an uprising many years prior to the novel, and the subsequent novels deal with the reaction to Katniss' outcome during the first book and the revolution that is brewing within the 12 districts of Panem.

I can't really say much more without giving away too many spoilers from the first book. I personally enjoyed the up close encounter of each event through Katniss' eyes. I'm not usually a big fan of first person as I like to be able to get an overview of what is happening elsewhere, but it's handled so well by Suzanne Collins that it only adds to the tension within the plot. But it also gives you that closeness to Katniss, a very strong yet flawed female protaganist who unwittingly inspires others by her actions. There is also an element of romance in the series, with a typical love triangle, but this really does take a back seat to the action throughout. I'm not one for romance usually (though I am a self confessed Twilight fan!) but it does add a subtle extra dimension to the characters problems and long term outcomes, and influence decisions.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Hunger Games, and wear my Mockingjay brooch with pride :)

'May the odds be ever in your favour!'

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Write Foxy!

Write Foxy! Writers’ Inspiration Day

I attended the Write Foxy! Writers’ Inspiration Day on the 2nd November at the De Vere Village Urban Resort in Dudley. A day packed with invaluable information and talks from well-established authors. The day was geared up to put the fun back into writing. Once we start seeing our writing as a career it can often become all about the deadlines and we lose sight of why we write in the first place. It’s easy to forget the fact that this has been your dream job for years, or in my case from about the age of 6 or 7! Longing to be the next Roald Dahl, only a slightly shorter more feminine version!
The day was organised by Miranda Dickinson who is a Sunday Times Bestselling author of Fairytale of New York, Welcome to My World, It Started With a Kiss, When I Fall In Love and Take A Look At Me Now. She has sold over 500,000 books worldwide to date and has become an international bestseller in three countries. Known for her author vlogs and honest take on the publishing industry, Miranda has mentored new authors and works to encourage writers at all stages of their writing careers.

There were talks from brilliant authors... Hannah Beckerman - Author of The Dead Wife's Handbook (Penguin)

Tamsyn Murray - Author of the Stunt Bunny series (Simon & Schuster Children's) and Afterlife series (Piccadilly Press)

Cally Taylor - Author of The Accident - as CL Taylor (Avon)

And of course, Miranda Dickinson - Author of five Sunday Times Bestsellers, including Fairytale of New York and Take A Look At Me Now (Avon)

The informative talks covering many aspects of writing from editing to putting the fun back into writing, were punctuated with plenty of refreshments and snacks. There was even a writers’ den adorned with lovely owl lights, comfy cushions and sweeties if you wanted a space to work on some writing. I must admit I was too enthralled by the speakers to tear myself away for any writing. I preferred to network with fellow writers who all had a varied range of experience and interesting backgrounds. I do so love to spend time in the company of like-minded individuals. There is no one that understands the daily struggle of listening to the voices in their head and putting these ideas on to paper than other writers. To paraphrase Alice in Wonderland, we’re all entirely bonkers, all the best writers are!

A wonderful buffet lunch was also provided. There’s nothing like a plentiful supply of food to put the icing on the cake for an event for me!

I made some new friends, made great contacts, and met writers I’d admired from afar! The autographed books I collected testify to this even if I did feel like a geeky author groupie/stalker! But then I believe you can’t write well unless you read well, so it’s not stalking its research and networking!

It might sound childish but I was really excited to hear that we were getting goodie bags! And I wasn’t disappointed with the writerly treats. Notebooks, pens, the staple diet of writers were included. As well as a 2015 diary, foxy card, chocolates amongst other items. Needless to say, I was a happy camper!

All in all, Write Foxy! Was a fantastic day that I would and have been recommending to fellow writers’. I enjoyed it so much that I’m already booked up for the next one on the 8th February, you can find details for that at:

The fantastic writers speaking at this event are Kate Harrison, Julie Cohen, Rowan Coleman and once again the wonderful event organiser and writer Miranda Dickinson, who makes everyone feel right at home and very welcome!

Monday, 27 October 2014

What I'm Reading...

This month I have read 'The Voyages of the Princess Matilda' by Shane Spall, wife of actor Timothy Spall.

After watching Timothy Spall: Somewhere at Sea, Back at Sea and All at Sea, a set of three BBC Four television series that follow the journey of actor Timothy Spall and his wife Shane as they take their £200,000 52 feet (16 m) long ocean going Dutch barge, the Princess Matilda, on a trip around the British Coast including Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man, I couldn't wait to get stuck into Shane Spall's books as they give so much more detail and background than the programmes can.

As someone who loves the british waterways and have only had brief trips aboard barges, I now long for the open sea on a dutch barge! That's how beautiful Shane's descriptions are of locations and adventures along the way. It draws you in from the word go and paints so many pictures, you feel like you're on the journies with the Spalls.

I was laughing out loud at parts, and crying in others. It's a wonderful tale of living life to the full, and staring death in the face whether it comes in the form of leukemia or the turbulent tides ever threatening The Princess Matilda and it's crew. Shane and Tim's banter reminded me of my husband and I as they bickered and made friends in the blink of an eye, and shared moments of tenderness, true love and enjoyment.

It's a beautifully written book, that at times is funny, scary and the start to an adventure of a lifetime. I'm yet to read 'The Princess Matilda Comes Home' but I certainly intend to after reading 'The Voyages of the Princess Matilda', and will certainly recommend this book to many :)

Below is the write up from Amazon...

'Tim and I both understood we had done something really stupid. We had underestimated the danger involved in going out to sea. We had no radio, compass, life raft or flares. In other words, we were a couple of idiots.'

This is the story of Shane and Timothy Spall and their Dutch barge The Princess Matilda. After a summer on the Thames they head out to sea with only a road atlas and a vast amount of ignorance - and it is absolutely terrifying!

On their travels, memories are triggered of childhood trips to the seaside, but also of more recent times. A decade before, Tim had been diagnosed with acute leukaemia and was given only days to live. Shocked at how life can pass you by they decided that when, and if, Tim got better, they would buy a boat.

As Tim and Shane explore the coast from the Medway to Cornwall, eventually they start to wonder, could they make it out of England altogether? Could Matilda make it to ... Wales?!

Taking over five years, The Voyages of The Princess Matilda is a minor epic, charting a very personal, moving and uplifting story of an everyday couple's adventure around their much loved homeland.

** Winner of the British Travel Press's Narrative Travel Book of the Year Award **

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Write Foxy!

I've booked myself onto the 'Write Foxy! Writers' Inspiration Day' on the 2nd November in Dudley. I'm very excited as there will be four writers whose work I have read and enjoyed. I'm looking forward to both meeting them and also seeing what advice and inspiration they have for me and the others attending the course.

As far as I know there are a few tickets left, so I'll put the details below incase anyone else fancies booking up. There's another day in the new year too, on the 8th February.

Write Foxy! Writers' Inspiration Day - November 2014

Back by popular demand - the inspirational day for writers from bestselling author Miranda Dickinson!

Speakers confirmed:
Hannah Beckerman - Author of The Dead Wife's Handbook (Penguin)
Miranda Dickinson - Author of five Sunday Times Bestsellers, including Fairytale of New York and Take A Look At Me Now (Avon)
Tamsyn Murray - Author of the Stunt Bunny series (Simon & Schuster Children's) and Afterlife series (Piccadilly Press)
Cally Taylor - Author of The Accident - as CL Taylor (Avon)

Don't Just Write: Write Foxy!
A day for writers to come together, share ideas, be inspired and, most of all, reconnect with a love of writing. Part conference, part writers' retreat, the Write Foxy! Day will encourage you to make the most of your writing, learn from the experience of bestselling authors whilst also providing space for you to work on your own projects. Refreshments will be available all day and a full buffet lunch is included.

Who is the Write Foxy! Day for?
Everyone who writes! Whether you are just starting out, are working towards becoming a published or self-published author or are already published, this day offers something for you.

Will the Write Foxy! Day teach me how to write a novel?
No, but it will inspire you to make the most of your writing, whatever stage you are at. It's an inspiration day that will leave you fired up, armed with new tips and raring to pursue your writing goals.

What does Write Foxy! mean?!
Write Foxy! is all about writing what you're passionate about, keeping fun at the centre of your writing and loving what you do. So many writers at all stages of their writing careers struggle with doubts, fatigue, a sense of hopelessness and a lack of motivation: this day is designed to reconnect you to the reason you started writing. If you believe in and love what you write, readers will too!

The website for details and booking is:

If you want to take a look at some of the speakers work etc. you can find details on twitter for each at... Miranda Dickinson @wurdsmyth

Cally Taylor @callytaylor

Hannah Beckerman @hannahbeckerman

Tamsyn Murray @TamsynTweetie

Monday, 29 September 2014

How many drafts?

So you've written a novel, you might have proofread it or done the second draft, so how many should you do? When does editing and tweaking finally get to a stage where you can be happy to stop? Answer is, there is no right answer. Some people might only do three drafts, others ten or more. It will vary from story to story.

Something I've found that helped me focus was Larry Brooks advice on fiction writing, in particular...

The Six Core Competencies of Successful Storytelling that define novelist heaven

1. Concept – the central idea or proposition from which you create a landscape upon which to tell the story; weak premise, weak story…

2. Character – checklist-driven criteria for developing backstory, arc, inner conflict and the essence of a hero’s quest…

3. Theme – the elusive meaning of your story and how it affects readers on multiple levels; in other words, why they’ll care…

4. Story architecture – a four-part story structure riddled with segments missions, milestones and standards that keep the story growing and moving…

5. Scene execution – if you can’t boil water you can’t cook up a buffet; this is the crafting of efficient, tense, visceral scenes and narrative…

6. Writing voice – the assemblage of words you summon as foot soldiers with the mission of carrying your structural strategy to victory.

For me the first draft is just getting the story down. Don't worry about mistakes, I don't even try to plan too much or think, I just write and write some more. It's like getting yourself a great big lump of clay and adding a bit, then a bit more.

Second draft, now you've got this big, lumpy piece of clay it needs to be moulded. Taking a notebook and pen I read through and make notes to begin with. This is where I find the plot holes and try to fill them. Character development happens here too, you can really start to get to grips with all these new characters that have waltzed into your life.

Third draft, now it's really starting to take shape. Those typos might still be slipping through the net, keep catching them and putting them right! Start getting some detailed editing in, take a closer look at sentences and work on it until it flows as well as you feel it can.

Fourth draft, there might still be the odd grammatical error or typo slipping through, keep setting it right. it might also be a good idea to have someone you trust give it a read through. I've found my local writing group an amazing influence and help. Like minded individuals might be just what you need at this point. Doubt creeps in at the best of times, even when you've had some success. There's a definite worry there that you might not achieve that level of success or recognition again.

Fifth draft, now surely we must be getting to the end? Yes, we could well be by now, but it really is down to how you feel or if you have an agent or editor what they think at this stage. Are you completely happy with what you have written? Could it be better? Is your cast list essential? Remember that unless the characters or events move your plot forward they don't need to be in there. Remember, at the end of the day, the suggestions offered to you are exactly that, suggestions that you can choose to use or not to use. Others may want to take your story in a different direction to the one you're taking it. Whilst others may notice something about your plot or spelling that you might have missed. A fresh pair of eyes is essential.

Write, read, edit, write, read, edit and you'll get there. Just stay focused and set yourself time to write every day/week and stick to it. It's okay to take breaks but make sure you set yourself targets/deadlines and work towards them, there's nothing more satisfying than achieving that goal!

Happy writing :)

Thursday, 18 September 2014

All The Bird's Singing

I seem to be reading more than writing at the moment, but then reading helps my writing to improve so it's all research really :)

This week I have read Evie Wyld's All The Birds Singing. I struggled to get into the book to begin with, it took some time to adjust to the timelines. There is the present day,  and past events, but the past ones were told backwards in the sense that the nearest to present were told first until the conclusion of that time thread was the protagonist's teenage years.

I'm glad I perservered as I did enjoy the book. I have never read anything quite like it, I suppose the only thing I can think that is similar might be the earlier books of Martin Amis.

Evie Wyld has a fresh voice and a way of storytelling which I enjoyed. The pace was good moving a long quickly with flashbacks telling the protagonist, Jake Whyte's checkered past, and how she came to be the character she is in present day.

I really liked the book, and would certainly read others by this author, but I did feel let down by the ending. I found it far too ambiguous for my taste. Personally I would have preferred either a more defined resolution that provided more answers, as I had plenty of questions! Or an abrupt ending more in keeping with the pace of the book, possibly even ending a chapter earlier than it did. But that is just my opinion, everyone brings their own ideas and thoughts to a story regardless of the author's intentions. Readers will always read a story in their own way, and take something from it that perhaps the author did not intend or foresee.

All in all, the book had an unsatisfactory ending that left me wanting more than metaphors. Despite this I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the book and Wyld's style of bringing the characters to life. I would recommend reading All The Birds Singing for it's dark yet refreshing voice that keeps you hooked, drawing you deeper into Jake's past and present, wanting to know more about this mysterious, often distant and troubled individual.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Simon Says!: He said. She said.

Excellent piece on dialogue by Simon Whaley...

Simon Says!: He said. She said.: At the NAWG Festival of Writing last month I attended a couple of workshops led by the crime writer Veronica Heley. ( http://www.vero...

Sunday, 14 September 2014

What I'm Reading!

To keep my brain from completely melting down I like to read a very wide range of styles and genres. I have a system in place that I like to think keeps me from going too soft on my noggin. I like to alternate between children's and adult's fiction. So when I've just finished a hard going very grown up book, I like to get stuck into a world of magic or steampunk, or maybe both or not those at all. I just like to have something I can escape to and enjoy. Of course I can do this with grown up books too, but this is just my system and it works for me.

This past couple of weeks I have read Alex Marwood's crime thriller 'The Wicked Girls'. Here's the blurb: One fateful summer morning in 1986, two 11-year-old girls meet for the first time and by the end of the day are charged with murder.

Twenty-five years later, journalist Kirsty Lindsay is reporting on a series of attacks on young female tourists in a seaside town when her investigation leads her to interview funfair cleaner Amber Gordon. For Kirsty and Amber, it's the first time they've seen each other since that dark day when they were just children. But with new lives – and families – to protect, will they really be able to keep their secret hidden?

I haven't read much crime for a while, I've been guilty of reading more than my fair share of fantasy and magic of late, so it was a pleasure to return to this genre. It's a taut, fast-paced book. I enjoyed the hopping from different points of view to glean a cohesive arc of the plot as it unfolded. Once I'd got to grips with the flashbacks and present day, I enjoyed piecing together which old identity belonged to the two main female protagonists.

The book reflects the prejudice of a nation, and mob mentality that is endemic within our society. It's a dark and disturbing book that makes you stop and think about your own views and morals. I would definitely recommend this to any other fans of crime thriller, and even if you're not it's worth a try to push your boundaries!

The second book I've just read is Cressida Cowell's 'How To Train Your Dragon'. I'm guilty of watching both films, and seeing the TV series first. But after visiting the Seven Stories exhibition this summer at Wolverhampton Art Gallery - A Viking's Guide To Deadly Dragons by Cressida Cowell, I thought I really should get round to reading the actual books. Not to mention seeing the fantastic illustrations, I'm a big fan of illustration. I trained in Fine Art, after a brief stint in fashion I specialised in Painting and Printmaking, but part of me regrets not doing Children's Book Illustration, which was also on offer at the university.

Bit of a blurb frim Amazon: Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III was an awesome sword-fighter, a dragon-whisperer and the greatest Viking Hero who ever lived. But it wasn't always like that.
In fact, in the beginning, Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III was the most put upon Viking you'd ever seen. Not loud enough to make himself heard at dinner with his father, Stoick the Vast; not hard enough to beat his chief rival, Snotlout, at Bashyball, the number one school sport and CERTAINLY not stupid enough to go into a cave full of dragons to find a pet... It's time for Hiccup to learn how to be a Hero.

How to Train Your Dragon is a fun tale, and the first in a series. It's completely different from the films and TV series, in both plot and appearance so reading the book afterwards wasn't an issue after all. Easy to read, and now I'm keen to read the rest of the series and find out what else happens to Hiccup, his dragon Toothless and the rest of his Viking tribe The Hairy Hooligans. I enjoy a flawed hero, in this case a very un-viking like viking, who is scared and not very good at anything heroic. Humorous for both adults and children, and I shall be sharing Hiccup's adventures with my own children during bedtime stories :)

Saturday, 6 September 2014

NAWG Festival of Writing

Last weekend I attended the NAWG (National Association of Writing Groups) Festival of Writing at Warwick University. Having never attended any sort of writing festival before, and arriving on my lonesome I was a bit nervous and unsure what to expect. I couldn't have hoped for better.

I arrived at the same time as one of my tutor's, crime writer Veronica Heley. Which was fortunate as neither of us had been before and helped one another navigate from accommodation to venues. She was also kind enough to offer to read the start of my novel before I attended her courses. She provided some very useful and helpful advice both at that time and throughout the weekend. Including how to do away with 'He said' 'she said' altogether from writing and keep the plot moving along at a faster pace. Just replace '... said' with an action and the writing flows smoothly.

One workshop in particular I found helpful was 'How to Write and Sell Short Stories' with Jane Wenham-Jones. I've always loved Jane's approach and style, and found her Wannabe a Writer a must for any aspiring writing. Wannabe a Writer We've Heard Of is just as fantastic and filled with helpful information. I am not ashamed to say I was very excited getting Jane's autograph, see below!

Whilst I've had some success with short stories in the past, it took Jane's workshop to make me see that I was missing the essential point to a short story. By the end of a story the protagonist must have changed. It doesn't have to be life altering, but a definite development and change needs to have occurred by the end of the story. So simple, yet I feel I have missed that with some of my own writing. 

Another top tick from Jane, when entering competitions avoid death and mental health issues, it's been done to death. And definitely no stories told by a dog, or cat!

I had a great workshop again with Jane but jointly with David Nobbs, writer of great comedy such as Reggie Perrin. With two comedic geniuses in the room it couldn't fail to produce some fantastic and hilarious results. David also gave a witty speech at the Gala dinner. If David is ever giving a talk you can attend I strongly recommend it!

There are so many other aspects of the weekend that were brilliant from the food to the company. Considering I arrived alone, I never stayed that way. There were always many new friends to meet and network with. 

Saturday night was very exciting with the Gala dinner and awards. There was a 100 word mini-tale to write over the weekend, won by writer Simon Whaley. I myself was excited to receive a commended certificate for my YA story 'Tomatoes' see picture below :)

The food was delicious and company wonderful as I sat with new friends and writer/tutors Paul Dodgson and Judi Goodwin.

All in all, the weekend was fantastic and inspiring. I made many new friends and writing connections. It was so good I booked for next year before I even left. So see you all next year in Warwick for the 2015 NAWG Festival of Writing!

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Anorak and NAWG

I've had some great news in the past week. My short story for Young Adults called 'Tomatoes' has been commended in the NAWG (National Association of Writing Groups) competition. All details here...

I shall also be off to Warwick this weekend for the NAWG Festival of Writing, very excited to be attending some workshops by Veronica Heley and Jane Wenham-Jones amongst others.
More details here...

The current issue of Anorak magazine for children ( - Cities, features a story of mine called 'Baby Fox Goes on an Adventure' and is illustrated by Sam Kalda. You can see both his wonderful illustrations and a look at my story accompanying them on his website via this link:

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Thank you!

I just wanted to post a quick thank you to everyone who supports me and who has taken the time to read my blog! I have reached 3000 hits so it's a special day :)

Thank you all!

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

The Second Draft

It's been a week and a day now since I completed the first draft of my second novel, A Witch in Time. The novel started  as part of the Nibfest14 write-a-thon, organised by Laetitia Rutherford of Watson, Little Ltd.

I was going to leave it longer than a week before I got stuck into some serious editing, but I'm keen to get started. I'd like to write with the characters still very much fresh and fully formed in my mind. It seems to be the best approach for me. With hindsight, now I've worked out how my writing process works for longer fiction, booking a week or two off work and working flat out would be the ideal. But in a non ideal situation with work ever looming, I am working around noisy, happy children, and activities, and working late into the night, even if it's only 100 or 200 words, it's little but often and accumulative.

It's got me thinking about the whole process of approaching a second draft. Thought I'd jot down a few pointers below...

- It's a bit of a drain on ink and paper resources, but at this stage it's usually best to print out a copy. The words have a different feel and can look very different on paper to the screen.

- I like to have a read through and make notes at this stage, on the actual manuscript, often spelling and grammatical errors, repetition, maybe even the wrong name! But also in a notebook, so that I can make more extensive notes per chapter of what I'd like to revise.

- Back to the laptop/computer! Start working through chapter by chapter making corrections, but also adding or taking away chunks of writing. Or adding more detail or maybe more dialogue, wherever sparse or in need of a plot hole filling in. In the first draft, If I get stuck or need to write further on to help the plot progress, I often leave a chapter unfinished so that I may come back to it at a later stage when I know exactly what I'd like to add or change.

- It's a good idea to set yourself a deadline when you'd like to complete a draft to keep you focused. It's very easy at this stage to start thinking about the next project which you're already excited about.

- Sometimes in the second draft I discover characters that don't really have much of a role, more a bit part. So unless they are absolutely necessary I try to cut these and give their role to another more prominent character. If a character doesn't have a big enough role or a subplot doesn't actually move the story forward then cut it.

- Once you've completed a second draft, put it aside for a couple of weeks so you can re-read again with fresh eyes. It might seen like hard work, but a third draft could well be needed. You want it to be perfect once it arrives with an agent or editor after all :)

Happy writing!

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Writing Spaces: Where do YOU write?

I love seeing where other writers write. Where the spend their creative time whether it be bedrooms, sheds, armchairs in the corner of living rooms, kitchen tables and sheds, they are just some of the places regularly used. Here are some of them: Mslexia have an article on their blog by carolyn Jess-Cooke here about it here: Writing Spaces: Where do YOU write?

Here's a previous post I shared on the same subject by writer Simon Whaley, back in 2012:

And one of my all time favourite writers, Roald Dahl's writing chair...

Here's my writing space this week, wish I always had seaviews, but alas, back home to the city tomorrow!

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Literary Rambles: Word Counts for Children's Books

Came across this very handy and informative blog called Literary Rambles, this article is on word counts, an issue I'm often worrying over! Well worth a read and handy to refer to :)

Literary Rambles: Word Counts for Children's Books: I received a request awhile ago to do a post on word counts for different age categories in children's lit.  Since opinions vary greatly...

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Wombourne Writers: August Homework

Next month's homework for the writing group I attend. Next meeting will be Wednesday 6th August at 7.15pm :)

Wombourne Writers: August Homework: Write a poem, short piece of prose, or letter based around the following small advert - up to 500 words: Bargain Buys. Picture of Japanese s...

Friday, 18 July 2014

Dreams becoming a reality!

It's been a while since I last posted an update. Since the Whitsun holiday it's been a time of many changes, some good, some not so, and some just amazing! I've had some setbacks in many forms, including getting up to water pouring through the kitchen ceiling from the bathroom, and much worse, losing our dear cat Pasta, who had been with me for nearly 16 years.

With my furry companion gone, I have thrown myself into my writing more than ever before. And I am reaping the rewards!

I have written since I was little, and my dream all of my life was to be published. As an adult I have longed to be at a stage where I felt I could start approaching literary agents, and this year I have. Petronella Beetletwitch and the Water Pistol Bandit starting receiving feedback with rejections so I knew I was getting closer. Then an agent asked for the full manuscript, so things were definitely taking off. At this point I had only ever considered approaching Children's literary agents, but started to realise that wouldn't necessarily be the best approach considering my love of horror and crime fiction.

It was Nibfest14 that spingboarded me towards my dreams. The week long write-a-thon founded by agent Laetitia Rutherford with Watson, Little Ltd was the starting point for A Witch in Time, which then became one of 7 shortlisted entries.

This competition led me to discovering the fantastic agent Laetitia Rutherford, who has since offered me representation :D I have a feeling this is the start of a wonderful partnership that will lead to many more books!

Excited and frantically writing A Witch in Time now, which hopefully will end up in bookshops in the none too distant future. Watch this space!

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Wombourne Writers: July Homework

Wombourne Writers: July Homework: July Homework - Write the dialogue between these two ladies. 500 words approx.

Homework for this month for Wombourne Writers, the fantastic writing group that I attend. It runs the first Wednesday evening of each month in Wombourne library :)

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Taking flight

Since I completed the last edit of Petronella and the Water Pistol Bandit she has been flitting about and landing in slushpiles. All seems to be going very well, Petronella is receiving a lot of positive feedback, my favourite being described as a 'terrific writer!'

Two agents have requested the full MS so far, so fingers crossed for a home for Petronella before too long. I'm feeling very hopeful. The whole process has been exciting, even a knock back hasn't made me feel hurt or rejected. I think a background in Fine Art has helped prepare me for this stage in the process. Anything creative is hard to judge as it is so subjective, people either love it, hate it or are ambivalent towards it, with a few grey areas in between. But basically it comes down to they either like it or they don't have an interest in it, just like a book and the whole submission process.

Now I'm waiting to see if I've found the agent who feels as passionately about my writing as I do. One who likes that all important factor, the 'voice'. Again, like anything creative, you develop a style of your own with time and practice, and it's what agents always say they are looking for. So fingers crossed my 'voice' is being heard and liked and it wont be long before I can post my 'I have an agent!' story :)

And in the meantime, I've been world building and character profiling for my new novel 'A Witch in Time'. It was started for the Nibfest14 write-a-thon, and was shortlisted. Now I'm adding and developing Feather's story, and loving every minute of this new adventure!

Thursday, 15 May 2014

I'm a Nibfest14 Shortlistee!!!

On the 4th May at Midday Nibfest - The Festival of Writing announced a first line, which unpublished writers were then to take and write up to 5000 words. Either a short story or the start of a novel. It was a mad week of writing last week as there was exactly one week for this write-a-thon. Pens down and entry sent by midday on 11th May.

The opening line was... It was a bright day in May, and the clocks were striking twelve.’ 

When I read that line a character popped into my mind, standing alone in a room full of clocks. Her name was Feather and she was a witch. A novel was born from that sentence, or at least the first two chapters. I'm now world building and character profiling, yes I even know what Feather has in her pockets, I've got to know her so well this past week.

I knew as soon these new characters had come into my life that they were going to have a good story to tell. I've only known them just over a week and I'm very excited to learn all about them and where they are going to take me.

I've been looking forward to seeing the results of the write-a-thon and eagerly awaited 10pm for news. I couldn't have hoped for better news! Nibfest14 notified me that I was one of the 7 Shortlistees :D Excited doesn't even cover it! I think I've driven my family mad this evening with my bouncing about the house and reminding them intermittently of my new status as shortlistee.

I'm one very proud writer right now, and cant thank the agents at Watson, Little enough for shortisting me. I now eagerly await Alex Marwood, Katy Regan and Abigail Tarttelin's decision on the overall winner. Good luck and well done to the other shortlistees!

Take a look at blog of Cassie Leedham, another one of the shortlistees at:

For more information take a look at:
Wonderful agents at:
And the writers:, and

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

The Zombie Who Came to Tea

Thanks to fellow writer James Brinsford: the following re-write of The Tiger Who Came to Tea came about, it's the first draft of a modern classic in the making!

The Zombie Who Came to Tea by Emma Finlayson-Palmer

Once there was a little girl called Zoe, and she was having tea with her Mummy, in the kitchen.
Suddenly there was a thump and a thud at the door.
Zoe's Mummy said, "I wonder who that can be? It can't be the double glazing salesman because he came this morning. And it can't be the newspaper delivery boy because he only comes on Sundays. And it can't be your Dad because he's got his key. We'd better open the door and see."
Zoe opened the door, and there was a big, smelly, shambling old Zombie.
The Zombie said, "Brains! Sorry but I'm very hungry. Do you think that I could have brains and tea with you?"
Zoe's Mummy said, "Erm, I suppose so, come in."
So the Zombie shuffld into the kitchen and slumped down at the table.
Zoe's Mummy said, "Would you like a walnut?" 
But the Zombie didn't take just one walnut. He took all of them and swallowed the whole packet in one big gulp. "Brains," he said.
And he still looked hungry, so Zoe passed him some sausages. But again the Zombie didn't eat just one sausage. He ate all the sausages on the plate. And then he ate all the bacon, and all the cake, but he didn't like the cake so there was just some Zombie-mauled cake left to eat on the table.
So Zoe's Mummy said, "Would you like a drink?" 
And the Zombie drank all the tomatoe juice from the fridge and all the tea in the teapot. And then he shuffled around the kitchen to see what else he could find.
He ate all the chicken dinner that was cooking in the oven... and all the food from the fridge... and all the dog biscuits in the cupboard... and he drank all the protein shakes, slurped up raw eggs, and ate all the tins of cat food.
"Brains," he said, then shambled in the direction of the rabbit hutch.
"I think it's time to go now Mr Zombie," said Zoe's Mummy.
Then he said, "Thank you for my nice tea, brains. I think I'd better go now."
And the Zombie went.
Zoe's Mummy said, "I don't know what to do. I've got nothing for dinner, the Zombie has eaten it all!"
And Zoe was glad that the Zombie came as she didn't like chicken for dinner.
Just then Zoe's Dad came home. So Zoe and Mummy told him what had happened, and how the Zombie had eaten all the food and drunk all the drink.
And Zoe's Dad said, "I've got a very good idea. Pass me the phone."
So Zoe passed her Dad the phone, and Mummy fetched some leaflets from by the front door. They decided that they'd have a takeaway that night.
And they had a lovely dinner with pizza and garlic bread and ice cream for pudding.
In the morning Zoe and her Mummy went shopping and they bought lots of food to fill the empty cupboards and fridge.
And they also bought a very big tin of brains, in case the Zombie should ever come to tea again.
But he never did.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Watch out agents, here comes Petronella!

March was a bit of a write off as far as any editing and writing went. I've noticed that in times of stress I seem to write more lists, let's just say March consisted of a lot of lists! They serve their purpose though, they provide a focus, they are therapeutic, there is a feeling of euphoria as you cross something off a list :)

From mid February onwards we had a bit of an emotional rollercoaster in the Finlayson-Palmer household. Both sad and happy events have come and gone, death of a friend, birthdays of nearest and dearest. Sandwiched between these life changing events have been tummy bugs (far more than our fair hare in such a short space of time!), Dyslexia finally diagnosed with 3rd finlayson-Palmer (second so far, sure there's a third to come, not to mention Mommy Finlayson-Palmer, sure I am but never confirmed), littlest Finlayson-Palmer starting swimming lessons, second Finlayson-Palmer's 9th birthday party postponed due to torrents of vomit, break down of washing machine during said outbreak when we needed it most. Did end up with a lovely new sleek, ninja style black washing machine to match the oven and fridge (if sleek or ninja style could ever be applied to an appliance that makes such a racket!). Removal of the old one also caused flooding to the kitchen, nothing ever runs smoothly in our household, even the simplest of tasks results in some form of chaos! Two laptops and the main house computer all died during March when I was so close to completing the third draft of Petronella, just adding insult to injury!

At least amidst all of this my children managed to keep me going with their antics. They are a constant source of joy, stress, and inspiration :) It has been a pleasure to see my second son enjoy reading as much as he is from anime and Zelda books to Beast Quest (Thank you Adam Blade, whoever you really are!) especially when my eldest (also Dyslexic) is being very teenagery and resisting reading unless it is about squids or armies! I just hope all of my littlies grow up to realise just how fantastic a book is, how you can escape into any world, and be anyone you want to be in a book :)

After six months toil on Petronella Beetletwitch and the Water Pistol Bandit, and with help from friends with proof reading and editing, it is finally finished and ready to present to agents. Just hope it's as well received now as it was at Discovery Day 2 at Foyles last November. But with characters such as Bob the Ninja teddy bear coming their way, and the comical, bungling bandit Victor I don;t see how they couldn't enjoy it landing in their inbox! Watch out agents, here comes the first Petronella Beetletwitch book!

Monday, 24 March 2014

Darker Times

Guess who has a Flash Fiction piece in this new book 'Darker Times Collection Volume Two'... yes, little old me :) Some fantastic pieces in this collection, well worth a gander...

Book Description

17 Mar 2014 Darker Times Collection
The terrifying tales in this volume are the results of monthly writing competitions that are run by Darker Times Fiction at Each month, there is a winner, three or more runners up, and the opportunity for some honourable mentions. So, what can you expect from this collection? The aim of the competition is to write about the theme of 'darker times'. This can be interpreted in any way the author sees fit, and this is where it gets interesting. This is where we delve deep into the minds of our writers, where we see what secrets they've been harbouring, where we come to the main question that this volume is based on: what scares us the most? Given the opportunity to explore the subject of 'darker times', what did our authors decide to write about? What would you write about? The poems and pieces of flash fiction here range from the plain gruesome to the psychologically sinister, black comedy to gritty drama, the playfully spooky to the downright disturbing. The winning pieces were picked for their style, their technique, their originality, or their ability to invoke something 'dark' within the reader: fear, despair, doubt, regret, loneliness, pain. These aren't just stories that will have you wondering what's lurking under your bed or hiding in your closet; they'll have you looking into your own life, peering into your past, glancing at your own personal ghosts. When you start delving into the darker times, it's hard to get back to the light. So take this as an introduction and a warning. If you'd rather avoid the gloom and doom of our writers' darkest thoughts, then you'd better put this book down now. If, however, you dare to read the following tales and risk opening the door to your own personal darker times, then read on, please, read on...