Research – adding weight to my writing

March 12, 2016 in On Writing

I love research. I may be in a minority, but I like to get hands-on and really understand what I’m writing about. That’s why I spend so much time wandering around the English countryside taking photos, befriending butterflies, identifying flowers, insects and birds, laying in the grass and listening to the sound of nature and occasionally even climbing trees – all in the name of research. Read the rest of this entry →

A Rubia by any other name…

September 20, 2015 in On Writing

Character names are so important to me, unlike in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, where they believed names didn’t matter, I believe a name defines who you are.

You can love or hate your own name, you can even change it or sometimes learn to grow into it, as I have done.

My characters’ names are often one of the first things I decide about them. Sometimes a character pops into my head fully formed and already named, other times it takes a bit of deliberating. Read the rest of this entry →

Take a Walk on the Wild Side

May 27, 2015 in On Writing

When I get really stuck on what happens next in my story and the answers feel just out of reach, I head for the hills (and valleys) of the beautiful English countryside for inspiration.

Walk1Spring is finally hurtling towards summer in a riot of smells, sights and sounds and so on this blustery Sunday morning we pack the essentials – camera, note book, pencil, flower guide, map, water and snacks – in a rucksack that feels far too heavy for just basic provisions, and head off into the wilds.

I’ve placed my story in the countryside around where I live, not faithfully in one exact place, but more a range of places joined together, as if I’ve folded the map to create a new landscape that suits my needs. Read the rest of this entry →

Anthology Count Down

April 13, 2015 in Reviews

So it’s been nine months of meticulous planning and in exactly one month’s time our Beautiful Lies anthology will be  officially launched. This is the showcase for 19 writers who’ve just completed their MA in Writing for Young People. 19 hopeful dreamers who want to share their stories with the rest of the world.

When I took on the role of co-editor little did I know what I was about to embark on. It did however come with a warning from our predecessor, ‘It will be a lot of hard word’. Val – you were so right! There were days, where I’d worked my day job of a full eight-hour-day plus commute, then tackled four hours of anthology related emails to reassure the nervous, fend off unwanted opinions and placate the irritated, that I wondered why I was doing this. Next week I get to hold the culmination of all our hard work, the physical book itself, and I can’t wait. Read the rest of this entry →

Forgive me Blog Mother

January 22, 2015 in Life

Forgive me Blog Mother, for I have sinned, it’s been months since my last blog. I do, however have three very good reasons…

DeskReason #1
I’ve finished my Masters. Yay! I spent the whole summer slogging over my final 40,000 words and as a result I have the first draft of my book.
It took over my whole live for about three months. Every bit of spare time was spent chained to my desk, agonising over every word and rewriting each sentence with dutiful love for my characters and their fate.
If I wasn’t writing, I was thinking about writing. In short, it left me no headspace to write anything else, hence my neglect.
And just two weeks before my looming deadline – I broke my foot… Read the rest of this entry →

Book review, The Marshalling of Angelique’s Geese by Rowena House, in War Girls from Andersen Press

June 6, 2014 in Reviews

World War I, France, 1916

After the death of her father, 14-year-old Angelique Lacroix wants to keep her family farm just as it is until her brother, Pascal, returns from fighting at the front. However when her mother falls sick, Angelique has no choice but to ask Uncle Gustav for help.

When he finally arrives things begin to look up, until the army requisition their only cow and Angelique finds out her father left them up to the hilt in debt. Without the money to pay off the bailiffs, they face losing the farm and Angelique must embark on a difficult and dangerous journey to save it. Read the rest of this entry →

How to Create an Online Author Presence

May 19, 2014 in On Writing

As a new or unpublished author your on-line profile is a subject of much debate. Some publishers and agents say it’s essential, whereas others aren’t that bothered. Either way, if you’re going to do it, do it right.

Here are my suggestions for the most useful social and digital media available to you as the “next-big-thing” in the publishing world and my tips on how to use them to your advantage.

Author Website

The aim is that your site is the first thing that comes up in any search engine when your name is typed in. Make it shine! Make it tell the world who you are, what you do and how wonderfully talented you are. Technically you don’t have to be yourself, you can create an on-line persona, but think about the downfalls of this when, after years of slogging away at getting noticed, your fans finally get to meet you and instead of a 6-foot Amazonian woman you are in fact a shy and retiring engineer from Hemel Hempstead. Use your website to emphasise aspects of your personality by celebrating all that is different and quirky about you. This will make you stand out from the virtual crowd. Read the rest of this entry →

Book Review — The Islands of Chaldea by Diana Wynne Jones, completed by Ursula Jones

May 6, 2014 in Reviews

Diana Wynne Jones sadly died before she could complete this book and her sister Ursula Jones took up the mantle. There was no ending for the manuscript and no clue in Diana’s notes as to how the tale was meant to turn out. Ursula, no stranger to writing for children herself, went for it and completed the story with a dramatic flourish.

Twelve-year-old Aileen and her aunt Beck, the Wise Woman of Skarr, are sent off on a quest to break the spell keeping the Island of Logra hidden from the rest of the Islands of Chaldea. Their task is to breach the magical barrier and rescue the long-lost prince Alasdair and his bard Gareth, Aileen’s father. But first they must enlist the aid of one person from each of the four islands to help them with their seemingly impossible task.
Read the rest of this entry →