Tuesday, 31 December 2013

New Year New Beginnings

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Friday, 27 December 2013

"There's no place like home."

My daughter was given a pair of red sparkly shoes for Christmas this year, or the ruby slippers as they've now been dubbed. I've always wanted a pair like these since watching the Wizard of Oz as a child, as I'm sure many others do. Aside from red being my favourite colour and  being drawn in like a magpie by their sparkliness, I have always had a fascination with the notion of seemingly inanimate objects possessing a magical quality. If it's not ruby slippers, or a world at the back of wardrobe it's genies in lamps and the ability to control others with a magical ring... One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them, In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.

I'm off  to explore my house now and see what interesting objects there are that I could imagine imbued with magical properties, and I might just write a story about them :)

And below is my new and very lovely notebook that I shall be filling with such stories and imaginations...

Monday, 23 December 2013

My version of O Little Town of Bethlehem

Written for the Wombourne Writers Christmas meeting, here is my rehashing of O Little Town of Bethlehem...

O Christmas Day is Nearly Here

O Christmas day is nearly here,
To shops we rush and buy,
More useless crap and tat we get
To wrap then wonder why.
Those singing socks and underpants
That never will get worn.
Dad’s Santa beard and Christmas cheer
Meet with derisive scorn.

O overcooked huge turkey
Carved up on Christmas day,
With roast veggies and stuffing balls
Soaked in lumpy gravy.
Slump down in front of Christmas shows
As family starts to yell.
Crackers now pulled and jokes are told,
Before Boxing Day sales!

Saturday, 30 November 2013


Woohoo! Just scraped through by the skin of my teeth this year and completed NaNoWriMo :D

Monday, 25 November 2013

Discovery Day 2

On Saturday 16th November I travelled down to London with two fellow writers, Antony N Britt and Neil Sehmbhy, for Discovery Day 2 at Foyles in London.

Discovery Day is an event where literary agencies Curtis Brown and Conville & Walsh join forces, and let about 250 hopefuls who have been lucky enough to get a free ticket pitch their book to an agent. There were agents for both adults and childrens fiction, I went along to pitch one for the latter. You got 30 seconds to pitch; the agent would read the first page of your book and about 6 minutes of feedback.

I pitched a book aimed at 7-9 year olds, here’s the gist of my pitch…

Petronella Beetletwitch is a story about a fairy, who is considered odd at school as she thinks that humans are interesting creatures and not the scary fairy killers of legend.

Contact with humans is forbidden, but Petronella, or Ella as she prefers to be known befriends Cameron, a human boy and the pair battle to save the fairy kingdom from the evil clutches of Victor, a water pistol loving criminal on the run who is intent on stealing the fairies supply of magic dust.

It’s 27,000 words, aimed at 7-9 year olds and in a style reminiscent of Roald Dahl and Philip Ardagh.

It felt like I’d been waiting for ages when it was finally my turn, but well worth the wait as I got some great feedback from Emma Herdman from the Curtis Brown agency. Emma immediately made me feel at ease and my nerves evaporated as I relaxed into the pitch, and realised agents really are humans too!

My pitch seemed to be spot on, and after reading my first page Emma thought with a bit of tightening up my novel was ready to submit and seemed very keen and supportive of me to do so. It was reassuring to know I haven’t been needlessly banging my head against a brick wall; I really am getting ever closer to my goal of novel publication.

The ‘ask an agent’ lasted for about 10 minutes and also proved to be very useful. Sophie Lambert of the Conville and Walsh agency gave us some insightful information on approaching an agent, and also what might be her own dream book to represent.

The staff at Foyles were also brilliant and very friendly and helpful throughout the day, I don’t envy any of them that day, or the agents for that matter! 

All in all, the day was a fantastic experience, not least for the positive feedback for my book. I can thoroughly recommend going to future Discovery Days if the opportunity arises.

 The post-pitch much needed calories and refreshment!

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Early Days...

I was writing from an early age and always knew I wanted to be a writer. The first ever thing I had published was a selection of puzzles I made for a Ceefax page, wonder what ever happened to Ceefax! I entered a poetry competition when I was about 9 and this ended up in an anthology...

Fly, fly, fly your kite
High up in the sky
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Til a bird plops in your eye.

I always did like toilet humour!

Tuesday, 12 November 2013


Published as a flash, but this is the start of a much bigger piece...

Shadows by Emma Finlayson-Palmer

Senka sat with her back pressed firmly against a wall, legs crossed and lost in thought. She daren’t move too much in the sunny afternoon for fear of someone noticing her peculiarity. She preferred being out by the dim light of the crescent moon where no-one would notice she was any different to the other teenagers.

Her family had moved from city to city, and on more than one occasion made a plane journey to a new country. They could never stay too long in one place, or at least so far they’d weighed up the odds and decided to move on before their cover had been blown. Senka was fed up and lonely, and longed to stay somewhere long enough to make friends, although she knew her parents would never allow this.

‘It’s for your own good!’ They would say. ‘You know it’s far too dangerous for people like us.’

Senka watched as the long shadows slowly gave way to the cover of darkness, and realised she had sat for hours on the cold, stone path. She rubbed her legs as pins and needles pulsated like a shower of arrows, and tingled with icy pain. When she could walk steadily once more she set off for home.

Outside the house she looked up at its large, dark windows, like glassy unblinking eyes gazing back at her. Her parents very rarely used any of the rooms at the front of the house, another tactic in keeping a low profile. Senka needed answers, she knew they were different but whenever she started asking questions they told her she was ‘too young to understand’ and that they’d tell her ‘when the time was right’. 

Her hand brushed across her pocket and she felt the crinkle of paper stuffed inside, and this renewed her determination. The letter had arrived that morning, and already she had read it so many times that she could recite it word for word.

Holding her key a little too tightly, Senka strode purposefully up the front steps and let herself in. She listened for the sounds of her parents, feeling drawn towards them as if she were magnetised she was quickly up the stairs and standing before them.

“Senka! We’ve been worried sick! Where have you been all day?” asked her Mum as she tossed aside a half packed suitcase.

“You’re packing? We’ve barely unpacked from the last move.” Senka’s voice raised several octaves higher than normal as she struggled to keep her composure.

Her father sighed, “I’m sorry sweetheart, it’s time, we really must move on. We’ve stayed here too long as it is.”

“No!” Senka threw down the crumpled envelope in front of her parents. I know now why we don’t let people see our shadows. I know it’s the only way humans can see our true form, and I’m not leaving this time.”

Friday, 1 November 2013

Monday, 23 September 2013

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

The James Josiah Flash Project: Parchment by @vampyre1979 (309 Words)

My flash fiction published on today's James Josiah Flash Project...

The James Josiah Flash Project: Parchment by @vampyre1979 (309 Words): Saffron threw the bottle as hard as she could into the thrashing waves. She watched as the bottle bobbed along, pulled bac...

Saturday, 17 August 2013

womagwriter's blog: Wannabe a TV star?

womagwriter's blog: Wannabe a TV star?: Jane Wenham-Jones, novelist, columnist, womag-writer and author of the Wannabe a Writer? books, has a new project brewing. She's trying ...

Friday, 16 August 2013

Friday, 9 August 2013

Guest Blog for writer Neil Sehmbhy

Here's a link to my guest blog for writer Neil Sehmbhy, it's well worth having a read of Neil's work and writing advice.

Short Story

One of my short stories originally published in The Weekly News a couple of years ago...


‘She’s still in intensive care, you know.’
‘How awful, you’d never get over an attack like that would you? And she’s only 20.’
‘I know. They haven’t even got anyone for it yet.’
Jayne peered out of the train window and tried to ignore the conversation between the two women in front of her. She guessed they were talking about the brutal attack on a young woman that had happened last week. It had unnerved Jayne as she was the same age as the poor woman and the attack had happened not far from her own home.

As the train juddered into action, Jayne took out her Marian Keyes novel and started to read.
She found she was too tired to concentrate and her mind began to wander. She was trying to imagine herself sunbathing on some tropical beach but the women’s conversation interrupted her thoughts.
‘Well I wouldn’t go out by myself in the evening now.’
‘Neither would I. It’s far too dangerous.
Jayne sighed. She wished they wouldn’t keep talking about it. It reminded her how vulnerable she would feel walking home from the station alone, especially as it was nearly nine o’clock. She wasn’t usually this late home from work but she’d agreed to do some overtime.
Jayne decided to call in at the shop on the way home, there was better lighting that way and it had the bonus of a little treat for herself.

‘You’re in here late today,’ said the shopkeeper. Jayne liked coming in here, the family running the shop had been there for as long as she could remember.
‘I’ve been doing some overtime at the office today. I’m trying to save up for a holiday with my boyfriend. Somewhere warm and sunny,’ said Jayne as she plonked a bottle of red wine and some chocolate bars on the counter.
‘I’ve always fancied Florida, or somewhere like that. Nice and hot, and plenty to do.’
‘Anywhere warm where I can stretch out on a beach will do me. I’m fed up of these cold, dark evenings,’ said Jayne as she put her purse down while she stuffed the chocolate into her handbag.

‘I know what you mean. You need to be very careful too with this nutter about that hurt that poor young girl. You take care on your way home.’

Jayne stepped out of the shop and pulled her coat tighter as the wind hit her full on, stinging her cheeks and making her eyes water. She hurried down the road and wondered why on earth she wore heels for work; her feet felt sore and swollen.
It wasn’t far to go from the shop to Jayne’s flat but she felt nervous. She didn’t like being out this late when it was dark at the best of times, night shadows made her jumpy. With all this talk of the attack she was eager to be home.
As Jayne hurried on she looked up at the streetlights and saw moths flickering eerily, fluttering wildly at the light despite having to fight against the wind. She stumbled on some loose gravel, and cursed her heeled shoes as she felt a burning sensation and realised she’d twisted her ankle. She unsteadily got to her feet and walked as fast as her sore ankle would allow.
Jayne tried to quicken her pace but her ankle throbbed in pain. She glanced over her shoulder and was immediately filled with icy cold spasms of fear, and her heart thumped noisily against her ribcage. Someone was behind her and seemed to be hurrying in her direction.
It’s the attacker, thought Jayne. He’s after me and he’s going to hurt me, or murder me or do some other horrible thing to me. I’ll end up like that poor woman, left for dead after being brutally attacked. I don’t want to die. I’m not ready; I’ve still got so much to do with my life. I’m too young to die. I want to live, please let me live.

Jayne wanted to be sick, and her heart felt as if it would burst out of her chest at any moment. She began to run and as she did she heard the person behind begin to run too. I’ll never outrun them. Each heavy footfall got closer and closer, they were gaining on her. Jayne thought she heard the man shout to her. But her heart was pounding like bass drums in her ears, so she told herself it must have been her imagination. She ran faster but her ankle was still weak, Jayne’s leg buckled beneath her and she went crashing to the ground grazing her hands and knees. The wine bottle crashed to the floor with her and red wine gushed out like a pool of blood on the pavement.
The man was over her now breathing heavily, holding his weapon, poised ready to attack her.
Jayne tried to scream but no sound came out, instead the voice of the man cut through the darkness like a knife. His face wasn’t that of the monster Jayne had imagined, instead he looked shocked, almost fearful. ‘I’m sorry; I didn’t mean to scare you. I just wanted to give you this.’
Jayne felt giddy with a mixture of foolishness and relief as she took the man’s hand and pulled herself up rather unsteadily. It was hard to suppress a laugh as the man from the shop said, ‘you’ll never save up for that sunny holiday if you keep leaving your purse behind.’


Friday, 26 July 2013

Some photos to for inspiration...


Some inspiration :)
Just entered the Costa Short Story competition, there's a week until the deadline so still time to enter...

I met Anita Smith who went by her maiden name of Anita Haynes when writing a good many years back at a writing group. Sadly Anita passed away earlier this year, but her family has put together a selection of her fantastic short stories on Kindle. Anita was a brilliant writer with very sharp wit, there's something everyone can enjoy in this collection...


Saturday, 8 June 2013



We are thrilled to launch this year’s Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition. The competition is open to unpublished writers of novelistic fiction for children and one lucky winner will see their manuscript published by Chicken House with the backing of a leading literary agent. Please read on for all the information you will need in order to enter your manuscript into the competition. (Scroll down for a list of answers to the most frequently asked questions).

What Chicken House are looking for:
Original ideas, a fresh voice and a story that children will love! To enter, you must have written a completed full-length novel suitable for children aged somewhere between 7 and 18 years. By full-length we suggest a minimum of 30,000 words and ask that manuscripts entered do not exceed 80,000 words in length. For Barry Cunningham’s top tips on what makes a great children’s novel, click here.

What you can win:
First prize is a worldwide publishing contract with Chicken House with a royalty advance of £10,000, plus representation from a top children’s literary agent*. All longlisted entrants will receive a reader’s report of their work.

When to enter:
The competition opens Saturday 13th April 2013 and closes Friday November 1st 2013. You may enter your manuscript anytime between these dates, but entries must be received by the final postal delivery on Friday 1st November to be eligible for entry. We do not allow amendments to manuscripts we have already received, so make sure you are completely happy with your entry before you send it.

What to send:
You will need to send us a hard copy of the full manuscript (double-spaced; font size 12pt), a covering letter explaining why you believe your novel would appeal tochildren and telling us a bit about yourself, a page-long synopsis of your story and a chapter-by-chapter plot plan outlining the major events of each chapter. Please secure your manuscript with an elastic band and place it inside a cardboard wallet/folder. You will also need to enclose a cheque for £15 made payable to Chicken House Publishing Ltd. Please mark your envelope CHILDREN'S FICTION COMPETITION. If you wish us to acknowledge receipt of your entry, you must enclose a self-addressed postcard with sufficient postage attached**. We cannot accept entries by email.
The winner:
A longlist of approximately 20 entries will be selected by the Chicken House readers and will be announced in January 2014. Barry Cunningham will then select a shortlist of five manuscripts, announced in February 2014. The winner will be selected by the panel of judges (including Barry Cunningham of Chicken House, Amanda Craig of The Times, and top teen author, Melvin Burgess) from the shortlist of five manuscripts. The winner will be announced at the end of March 2014.

Barry Cunnigham's Top 5 Tips: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=aUAHRPMTyz4

Where should I send my entry?
Send your full entry in an envelope marked CHILDREN'S FICTION COMPETITION to:
Chicken House
2 Palmer Street
BA11 1DS
Can I enter my picture book into the competition?
No. The competition is for full-length novels only.
I have already self-published my novel. Can I still enter it into the competition?
Yes. You may submit a novel if it has been self-published. You may send the self-published copy if you wish to.
I have previously had published a short story/poem/picture book for children. Can I still enter?
Yes. This year we have extended the opportunity to enter to those authors who may have already had published a children’s picture book. Writers who have had short stories or poetry published are also eligible to enter.
I have entered my manuscript to the competition before, but wish to submit it again. Can I?
Yes. We understand that manuscripts can change significantly between drafts and we encourage writers to continue to improve their work. Therefore, this year we have changed the rules so that previously submitted manuscripts can be re-entered into the competition.
I am under 18. Can I enter?
No. The competition is open to writers over the age of 18 only. If you are under 18 and would like to receive an email with advice for young writers, please email tina@doublecluck.com
Is the competition open to international entrants?
Yes. For information on how to make your payment from overseas, please contact tina@doublecluck.com
* Subject to contract. For full terms and conditions of the prize please read the Competition T&Cs.
** International entrants may request confirmation by email but must include a slip with their entry expressing their wish for confirmation along with their full email address. For details on how to make payment from overseas, please contact tina@doublecluck.com

Sunday, 20 January 2013

New Year

After a long break from the blog in the mad rush in the run up to Christmas I am back and trying to get back to work. Theoretically as the snow is falling outside it should be the ideal time to stay indoors, get cosey and work on my stories. Instead I've found the dark, cold days are leaving me feeling low and longing for Spring! To help beat this I have begun free writing again, and stopped worrying so much about creating the perfect piece of writing.

Here's an interesting article from author Matt Haig that made me realise that there are a lot more of us that go through the dark times, but we can come out the other side...