Writers Looking to Submit

Are you looking to submit your novel to a small independent press? Many writers are now taking this path, as I did. For many of us, writers and readers alike, the independent press offer us the freedom of what to write and what to read, a freedom that the big six publishers, with their stranglehold on markets, do not allow.

If you’re looking to break that stranglehold then join us in London for a day of CELEBRATION, there will be heaps of useful information, talks, questions, celebrations & prizes – more details and booking HERE – don’t delay as numbers are limited

Look forward to seeing you there!

march 25th


When Good Women Do Nothing

I want to avoid it all, the news, Brexit, May and Trump, social media too, especially Twitter, but I’m drawn to it, moth to the flame.

I am the moth that inhabits the old, paper lampshade, hanging like a globe, in my study. The moth has been there for weeks, flitting round and round, ceaselessly, whenever I switch the light on. I make up my mind to release it, to free it from this trap. Surely it must be exhausted by now.

Exhaustion is the enemy. Exhausted, overfed, helpless, we die away. We give up, we give in, we switch off. But to switch off is tantamount to appeasement. We have been warned, to stand idly by is to court greater danger:

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men (and women) do nothing – Edmund Burke

The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing – Albert Einstein

Every day some new horror emerges, some new offence against human decency and dignity and what good does retweeting it do and what point is there in doing anything that is not a proper protest, that is not demonstrably, directly political? I must speak up, write up. But how? And how can I justify writing anything unless it directly addresses the horrors of this, ‘post truth,’ world?

It is possible to argue that writing by its very nature is a political act. It stands as an expression of freedom; of thought and word, an attempt at the truth, the art of empathy and compassion. But how much can writing a novel set in eighteenth century London and East Anglia help an Iranian woman detained in an American airport?

I know (from a close friend) how terrifying it can be to be detained in a US airport, to endure hours of waiting alone, while her husband was left with no idea what was happening to her, to be refused the opportunity to contact him, to be forbidden to speak. How bad now, I ask?

Are things so bad that I should stop writing the novel or the stories I am engaged with? Should I make them over, re-write them? Should I allow myself to be stopped in my tracks by this giant truck, heading all our ways. The answer must be, no. To stop is to give in. To alter seems like an admission of failure and a poisoning of art, if not of soul. Surely the only thing to do is to endure while taking every opportunity that presents itself – to march, to protest, to petition, to sanction –  to resist.

So,I will not be turning off the news, in fact I will be contributing financially to the free online press (in my case The Guardian) because we need them now like never before. I will not disappear from social media, and I will not stop writing my novel because then this climate of terror, of hate and intolerance, will have prevailed.

Please scroll down for some good news and a great event for writers and readers…

For Writers and Readers – Meet the Small Press…

I’m a big fan of small presses – here are two reasons why…

First – Comma Press – I tutored my first Comma Press short story group meeting at the Lit&Phil in Newcastle just over a week ago. I was nervous but I needn’t have been – they are a great group and am excited about us working together. For a brilliant insiders view, from someone who was also nervous on that day, read writer and group member, Clay Lister, on our first meeting

And now – Linen Press – EXCITING NEWS – for all writers looking to submit work to the small independent presses and for all readers who enjoy the freedom and choice small presses bring – join us in London for a day of info, talks, questions, celebrations & prizes – more details and booking HERE – don’t delay as numbers are limited

Look forward to seeing you there….

march 25th

Making Writing Plans for the Year Ahead

So 2017 is here but what will it bring? It’s already brought me a nasty cold but I’m pleased to say I seem to be getting over it quite quickly, which makes a big change for me. What I hope it brings is a healthier me (and you) and a stronger back!(I will have to work on all of that)

I’m looking forward also to the start of the Comma Press Short Story course in Newcastle, a Linen Press event in London in March – more of that soon – and of course the final of the  People Book Prize in May. Most of all I’m looking forward to writing a new novel – and I’m now 2,000 words in! I am setting myself the very modest goal of a thousand words a week, fine if I exceed it, not fine if I don’t!

It’s inveitable that we make writing plans at this time of year – if you would like to read my guide and suggestions for making your writing plans then you can read them here at my guest spot on the Linen Press Blog

Happy Writing!


On Wednesday I learned that Sometimes a River Song is through to the final of The People’s Book Prize. This is entirely down to your votes, so a huge thank you for voting for me. And many thanks to my publisher Linen Press for all their supprt.

I love that it’s the PEOPLES book prize. I cannot think of a better accolade than to be voted into a final by readers. But the greatest surprise and the biggest gift came when I read the comments left by voters. Honestly, it was very emotional for me to see how much people had loved the book.

You can read the comments HERE. (You have to scroll down, past the Reviews to Readers’ Comments) Voting takes place again in May 2017

2016-05-12-19-41-57Now, back to preparing for the Comma Short Story course I will be running in Newcastle in 2017  – starting January. I’m currently working on my plan for our six sessions and I’m getting excited by how much there is to talk about and to learn together. And how many new stories might be born. Looking forward to it very much.

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