My Writing Process – Blog Tour

Today is ‘My Writing Process,‘ blog tour day, when writers post about their writing process. Last week, the inspired Wendy Robertson, posted hers.  Thank you Wendy for inviting me on your Writing Process blog tour. Click here for Wendy’s Post


Q. What am I working on?

From writing with love final cover smallI’m currently in the final stages of completing and publishing my book on writing, From Writing With Love. This is a book I’ve been wanting to write for some time now, so I’m delighted to already have published it on Kindle, just this weekend,  and I’m now continuing with the Create Space process of producing the hard copy. From Writing With Love is a book that’s really close to my heart. I suppose it’s the teacher in me that won’t go away, still wanting  the buzz I get from helping and inspiring others.

What I’ve tried to do within it’s pages are chart my own writing journey in ways which I hope will resonate with both would- be writers and  more experienced writers. It’s the story of how I fell in love with writing, how a writer can find her voice and how I came dangerously close to falling out of love after rejections and disappointments. In it I offer new ways of defining and achieving success in our writing and of believing in ourselves. I talk about going Indie. I’ve also included everything I’ve learned along the way: all the craft, all the things I wish I’d known better at the outset, everything I’ve learned about writing short stories and novels.

This coming week I will finally get back to some fresh writing. I’ve recently written one or two darker stories and they seem to have led me to begin exploring connections with fairy tales. I’m very excited by this and by the prospect of new creative work.

Q. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I’m not very comfortable with the idea of putting writing into boxes. I don’t think of myself as writing in any particular genre. I write what I want to write, whatever project most appeals, this includes poetry which is on the back burner just now but which I know I want to explore much more fully in the future. The good thing about working in this way is that each thing I do influences the next, across genre boundaries. So for instance when I wrote my crime novel Blood Tide I learned so much about pace and constructing plot that I can take into  a new novel with me.

Q. Why do I write what I do? 

I write what I do because of who I am. I’m drawn to writing about the lives of people living on the margins and I think this reflects my long years of working in a women’s prison. As do the darker elements in my work

My writing is often inspired by place. I am always excited by new a landscape and when I was growing up my happiest times were out of doors, in the countryside or by the sea. I spent my childhood in a very watery place and I find when I’m writing, water often flows onto the page, as does  a love of the natural world, especially birds, and gardens too.

Q How does your writing process work?

I’m not strict about writing every day but I write most days, mostly because I can’t resist it. I write the majority of my first drafts in notebooks and I like to get out to cafes or bars to do this. I often do the really creative stuff out of the house and then come back to transcribe onto the machine. When I’m writing short stories I try to stay loose with ideas and not over think them in the early stages. I try to live with characters for a while, let them settle into my head and I try not to anticipate the story ahead. So when I come to write the story it’s a journey of discovery for me as I have no idea where it will end.

I also draft  my novels in a notebook first. For me once you get onto a machine it’s too tempting to start editing too early. The same with poetry. I keep this in the notebook for as long as possible and do even more drafting in the notebook before I risk the screen.

I spend a lot of time editing, what writer doesn’t? I enjoy it. I always think at this stage the hard work’s been done and now is the time to hone and polish and then leave it (for as long as possible) and then come back to it, and hone and polish again each time making it better. After all I think our goal must always be to produce the best writing we can. If we do this then I think we  have achieved  a measure of success.



Next week, on the 3rd February, the blog-baton passes to Judith Marshall. Judith is a poet and creative writing coach from Richmond, North Yorkshire. Judith alternates between fantasy and poetry, and is currently experimenting with a fusion of the two genres. You can find her blog HERE

Also on Feb 3rd I hope to share with you pictures of my real/virtual (it’s a bit of both) launch of From Writing With Love

Root – from Corbridge to Bishop Auckland

I had a great time on Wednesday evening in Corbridge (see previous post). For one thing it’s just so good to meet readers and for another the enthusiastic response they gave to the extract from my story Tough Love took me quite by surprise and was very gratifying. Mostly they wanted to know what happened to Dennis! Had he been buried in a hole along with the birds? What about his wife? Did I have a husband? And if you get to read the story you’ll see why they asked after my spouse!

The venue was perfect -Tea & Tipple cafe – and I was full of admiration for Helen of Forum Books who organised this packed event. I’ll definitely be back to browse the Forum bookshelves.

Meeting other writers like Beda who was also reading from the Root antholgy, was a huge part of the enjoyment- also via Twitter – writers : Mari Hannah, Hazel Osmond, Chris Marples - it was great to meet, have your support and share stories and a glass of wine – such a bonus. Also great to see Ian from my prison days

Of course Peter Mortimer and Kitty Fitzgerald from Iron Press - were behind the whole event – without them the book would not exist – they are just amazing at what they do – if you don’t believe me take a look at the programme for their forthcoming festival in May.

If you didn’t make it to Corbridge but you can make it to Bishop Auckland Town Hall this Wednesday 10th – 7pmwe’ll be doing it again. This time John Price and myself will be reading  HOPE TO SEE YOU THERE !

Why Can’t A Writer Write What She Wants?

Among the many things that friends, and I mean good friends, do for you ocassionally is to give you that long overdue ‘kick up the backside.’ They do it because they are friends who are kind and true – and beacuse of this you listen.

This week  I spent a rainy Friday afternoonon in a local hostelry – with first tea and then a glass of chilled white – with  my lovely friends Wendy and Gillian who proceeded to give me just such a ‘kick’  – in the nicest possible way – by talking me round to getting my crime novel Blood Tide onto Kindle and out into the world.

They were right when they told me I’d been procrastinating. I had. I’m not entirely sure why but I think it had something to do with Blood Tide’s history and the disappointment I felt about it not being snapped up by a mainstream publisher – especially as at one point it looked as if that was exactly what was going to happen. It’s a long protracted story, which I’ll elaborate on in my next post. But for now let’s just say it was a tough one for both me and my agent who had also been very hopeful.

My reluctance to publish Blood Tide was also caused by my feeling that it was very different from my previous novel; being in the crime genre. Having spent a weekend with it I know that while it is a genre novel it also very much my novel, exploring the themes that I am drawn to as a writer, among which are: the lives of abused and disenfranchised women, prison and the dark side, loss and the healing power of friendship and love, our deep connection with the past and with the landscape in which we live….

When it comes down to it why can’t a writer write in more than genre? And why can’t I write poetry and crime and romantic fiction and whatever else I choose? The answer is of course that there is no reason at all – it is really only the traditional world of publishing that demands writers get into a certain groove and remain there – better for the market they  say. Well in my new Indie world there are no such restrictions and I expect to have published Blood Tide within the next few days! Wish me luck…



Creative Licence and Some Journal Pictures

This year being my Indie year, I’ve given myself creative licence to write what I want to write, including poetry. I’ve also been making books, collaging, and keeping a journal. It’s soul food, utterly absorbing, it induces a kind of flow that’s easier on the mind then the flow of pure writing – perhaps more like improvised music..

Flow is being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (considered to be the founder of the Flow concept)

Here are some pictures from a journal I’m keeping of my visits to a garden, inc notes, poems, photos and collage – some of the paper I’ve used was made by my daughter Katie.

Soon I will be further south by the sea in Suffolk – I’m hoping the weather will last!

Our E-Book Publishing Conference

As I think I’ve already said, last weekend’s conference proved a resounding success.The feedback was more than we could have hoped for – so thank you everyone for your generous words.

On the 24th of the month I blog for Author’s Electric. Today is no exception and I’ve posted a piece about the conference including some of the those feedback comments. So if you’d like to read my take on the weekend do take a look - HERE is the link. One or two photos there too, some courtesy of Geri.

Welcome to The E-Publishing Revolution !

On the eve of our RoomtoWrite, Beyond the Page – E-publishing Conference, at Whitworth Hall, Co Durham, it’s hard not to be excited by all the possibilities that the new model of e-publishing offers.

Having worked for some time with writers who take their work and their craft very seriously; who’ve had agents, submissions that have almost made it, success in competitions etc, but still no publishing contract, it’s a privilege to be offering them the means and confidence with which to publish their work.

The e-revolution is without doubt upon us and if you need convincing of the way the model works for writers then take a look at experienced and award winning novelist  Catherine ‘s post eBay and the eBook Revolution

Catherine says –  ‘Last night, I came across a superb essay by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, characterising the way in which publishing is changing. It’s called ‘Scarcity and Abundance’ and it should be required reading for publishers and writers everywhere.I agree. It’s a fabulous piece and I urge you all to read it, long though it is. And if you are publishing an e-book it will gladden your heart. DONT MISS it.

To Anne, Erica, Eileen, Judith, Martin,Joy, Geri and Hilary – welcome to the REVOLUTION !!

See below Anne has already joined the revolution READ ABOUT PATTERSON’S CURSE her highly regarded first novel HERE

Anne has already joined the revolution

Celebrating the Indie – Susie Drew and Other Stories

As I posted at the beginning of January this is definitely my year for celebrating the Indie – exploring life outside of the writing world of the establishment, doing it for myself – and in a spirit of co-operation and not of competition.

So I’m delighted to say I’ve just published  Susie Drew and Other Stories – on Kindle. It’s the second in my series of prison stories – Beyond The Mask (the first being When You Hear The Birds Sing). It’s available for download here  price a mere 77p – $0.99 – for three stories and you can’t buy a coffee for that!

Here’s a taster….

 Susie Drew

Susie comes back to prison again and again…

Susie Drew has the habits of a jackdaw, stealing bright objects, little bits of nothing that shine. She steals food too, coffee from the Nescafe jar in the staffroom. She’s your cleaner, the best cleaner you’ve ever had. Puts the coffee in screws of paper, buries it under the mattress in her prison cell…


Heroin Trees – Roxanne and Me

Roxanne is a working girl. Nita is her friend, both are heroin addicts…

I wasn’t long out of prison after the first time and things weren’t going well. Despite all my promises I was back with Sonny and using again, our money heated up in spoons: liquid money shot into our veins and laid out nodding on the couch. We managed alright for a while because he was dealing, but when Sonny got sick and I started wondering what the hell we were going to do for money that was when Roxy rang…


Pink Passion

Marie’s search for love ends in tragedy…

I met him at the Pineapple, one Thursday night. I used to go there most weeks looking for something. I suppose then I might have called it love, although I barely knew it. You can’t know what you’ve never had, can you?  And I never had much of it when I was growing up…

If you’re tempted to read these stories of invisible lives I hope you find them fascinating- do let me know what you think.

Indie Celebration

Happy New Year!

I’ve been making books with my sister-in-law Jan. I love spending time with her as it’s always fun and very creative. We both made notebooks for our January small stones –

Here they are:

I used to work a lot in paper, some of which I painted before using, some found or given. I made collages, experimented with colour, texture and form, and making notebooks reminded me of how much I want to work with paper again.

While we made books we talked about the year ahead; our creative and life goals. Some of mine include:

  • publishing my crime novel Blood Tide which nearly made it but not quite and which I believe in and want to get out into the world – also launching it in style and getting to work on the sequel.
  • exploring journaling and notebook making – I’m hooked after just one session.
  • writing poetry – reading a poet a week, learning what I can, finding my own voice.

There were other things on my list but really they all came down to one thing – celebrating the Indie – exploring life outside of the writing world of the establishment, doing it for myself – and in a spirit of co-operation and not of competition.

I’m looking forward to 2012!