04 Jan 2017

How Do You Define Success?

Unsurprisingly a new year is a great time to set goals for the year ahead and to wish people health, happiness and success in 2017. Success = the accomplishment of an aim or purpose (dictionary definition) But what does success mean for you personally? When my shoulder tendonitis was at its worst and I’d spent 3 days in my pyjamas sat on the sofa because the pain and painkillers were wiping…

23 Dec 2016

Passive Receiver or Engaged Analyser?

Apologies for not having posted last week, although with the busyness of this time of year you probably didn’t notice.  I sustained a nasty shoulder injury a couple of weeks ago and spent most of last week in a fog of excruciating pain.  One of those days was even more unpleasantly enhanced by an opiate painkiller daze.  Coleridge might have written Kubla Khan on opium, but I ditched it after just…

07 Dec 2016

Where Have I Been and Where Am I Going?

Almost exactly a year ago I wrote this post about where I was at then and what I hoped might happen in 2016. I’ve discovered over and over again that “every step on a writing journey takes a LOT longer than you think”.  I’ve confronted and been thwarted by numerous Threshold Guardians.  I’ve definitely gone into the Inmost Cave and am having a bit of an Ordeal if I’m honest. When…

29 Nov 2016

So, What’s Your Book About?

On the Saturday afternoon of the SCBWI conference I gleefully skipped along to a workshop on Pitch hoping to nail an answer to that question.  It was great session, led by a brilliant tutor, but…rather than gaining any clarity I ended up spiralling into greater confusion. Partly it’ll have been because I can’t work creatively in a classroom environment.  Partly it could be that the partner I was working with…

21 Nov 2016

David Almond and the Incredibleness of Imagination

The great writer, David Almond, was the keynote speaker at the SCBWI Conference I went to this weekend. Until a couple of weeks ago I’d only heard from others that he was a great writer, but I discovered it for myself when I decided to do some conference prep and read “Skellig”.   It shocked me.  It was beautiful and magical, but it was ambiguous.  What was real and what wasn’t? …

15 Nov 2016

Who’s Pulling Your Strings?

In my re-launch post a few weeks ago I said: Despite the rise of social media, traditional media still exerts its control and influence over us.  It chooses what we focus on, what we overlook or ignore, and whose opinion we listen to.  We’re still pushed, pulled and coerced by it in any number of ways that we’re totally unaware of. It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently. …

07 Nov 2016

Why You DO Like Sci-fi/Fantasy Really!

I never set out to write sci-fi/fantasy.  I wouldn’t have thought of myself a particular fan of it and even now I’m nowhere near as voracious a reader of it as my 13yo.  Nothing makes my eyes cross in confused boredom quicker than a book which starts with a random star-date and a place I’ve never heard of. Genre is a massive debate within the writing community (here‘s a long…

31 Oct 2016

Sheffield Short Story Competition

Back in September a friend shared a writing competition on social media.  I don’t generally write short stories – as the wonderful Berlie Doherty (one of the judges) said on the award evening, they’re a very specific skill and not one I’m interested in developing further at the moment – but it was an intriguing brief.  You could choose from 5 different opening lines and the story needed to be 1,000…

30 Oct 2016
Mike Wilson via unsplash.com

Being Authentic, Distinctive and Unique

Voice.  When you ask an agent or a publisher what’s the key thing they look for in a manuscript, they nearly always say voice.  When pressed on what exactly that means, the answer is usually some version of “it’s hard to define, but I know it when I see/hear it”.  Cue all writers dropping their heads into their hands and crying out “arghhhhh!”. The bottom line is that “voice” is…

16 Dec 2015

Looking Back and Looking Forward

What a year 2015 has been!  If I’m honest, when it started I’d hoped to be further on in my writing journey than I currently am, but that’s because my expectations were unrealistic not because I haven’t worked hard or achieved loads. The main thing I’ve learnt is that every step on a writing journey takes a LOT longer than you think.  When I look back to roughly a year ago – when…