The writer is a lonely hunter


How is your summer shaping up?







Saturday 27 June was the last day of my course with fellow students on the MPhil Writing at Pontypridd. I submitted my transfer paper to PhD for discussion to help with preparations  for the viva which is likely to take place in the autumn. I have learnt so much during the two years of part-time study, particularly about plot and structure of a novel.

The Winchester Writers’ Festival was held the previous weekend, so it’s been a busy time. I’ve been madly rewriting the first three chapters of my novel ready to resubmit to a couple of people I met at the event. I’m also involved in preparations for the Poole Festival of Words at the end of July, so that’s enough to keep me focused for the next few weeks.

How is your summer shaping up?


Open Story Slam, Poole



Here are details of an exciting new story slam which is offered by the Dorset Writers’ Network as part of the Poole Festival of Words 2015.




Thrill and surprise the audience with your 500 word story (to be read within 5 minutes).

The finest writer will become Poole Festival of Words’ Story Slam Winner 2015.

Your judges: writers Michael O’Byrne, James Cole and Jennifer Bell.

Your MC: prize-winning poet Ben Johnson


SATURDAY 25 JULY 7.00 – 9.30pm

Tickets £5.00 on the door for readers and audience

Register in advance by emailing to give your name or turn up on the night. Ten names will be selected from a hat to fill the reading slots scheduled for the evening.

This event is of interest to readers and writers alike. You will be able to listen to a range of stories and experience something a little different.

I look forward to seeing you there!



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First 3 pages of a novel: adjudication

It’s the Winchester Writers’ Conference on Friday and I submitted How to be Brave into the first 3 pages of a novel competition. Shortlisted entries will be posted at the conference on Saturday morning and winners announced in the evening. So, it was with some surprise that I received the adjudication to my entry yesterday. Actually, the feedback is quite handy as I can work it into my pitch when I meet publishers and agents during the one-to-one sessions I’ve booked.

Here is my elevator pitch for the story:

How to be Brave uses an alternating narrative style to show how misplaced childhood guilt impacts on adult life.

Here is an extract from the feedback:

This story has a unique premise which feels quite current and commercial and the two timelines is always a clever way to show backstory and help your readers really understand your characters.

There were also comments on things I need to address, so it’s giving me more direction on moving forwards.

I’ll let you know how I get on at the conference in my next post.




Writing places: a new project

Thomas Hardy's Cottage

Thomas Hardy’s Cottage

The National Trust, Literature Works and the Poetry Archive have formed a new partnership to offer to offer a programme of events celebrating the literary heritage of the South West. The launch of the programme was held on 2 July (the birth date of Thomas Hardy) at Max Gate. As an invited guests, I toured the house, listened to Andrew Motion read from a forthcoming collection of poetry and found out more about the project. Five National Trust properties with strong literary connections, including Max Gate and Hardy’s Cottage,  will have professional writers appointed to act as writers-in-residence. The purpose is to explore ‘the domestic lives of some of the country’s greatest writers, revealing how the houses and landscape that they loved inspired them to create their masterpieces, and how these places continue to be relevant today’.  A programme of workshops and events will be developed so that writers and visitors can contribute to the project. Find out about developments as the programmes progress by visiting the Writing Places blog.

As a result of the launch, I’ve discovered it’s well worth visiting the Poetry Archive.  I spent a delightful couple of hours listening to poets read from their work. By following  a tour of the archive with Mark Grist and David Almond (there are many tours to choose from), I was introduced to new poetry, which I loved. The experience encouraged me to try my hand a writing a poem – the first one since school days!


Representing the Tudors, an interdisciplinary conference




Join this weekend conference at the University of South Wales (Treforest Campus, Pontypridd) to find out more about how the Tudors are represented in popular culture. Images of the famous monarchs, Henry VIII and Elizabeth 1, abound  and have a particular resonance in the arts, literature, the media. At the conference, historical novelists Vanora Bennett, Suzannah Dunn and Elizabeth Fremantle will talk about their work and read from their books. Panel sessions include:

  • television and the Tudors
  • writing fiction
  • constructing an image
  • shaping the past in the present

Click here, for further information. The price for attending the full conference (including 2 nights accommodation and food) is £120. Postgraduates/unwaged pay £60. If you can’t attend the whole event, there are various options.

I look forward to seeing you there!



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How to find a pen name

At one particularly difficult writing group meeting, when I yet again presented the synopsis of my novel for discussion, a fellow writer told me that it wasn’t worth bothering with a synopsis, as I was too old to be published! Although I am probably one of the youngest members of the group, there is a grain of truth in the comment. Many of the debut novelists that I follow, some now into their second or third book, do have youth on their side. This got me thinking.

Chuck Palahniuk’s advice, which I’ve written about here, suggests getting an author photograph taken while young, and reuse it frequently. Not that I am young or that I’ve done anything about this, but the idea remains. Another problem is my name. Many first names are indicative of the timeframe of birth and although Gail was never a particularly popular name, it does have echoes of the 1960s. Indeed, when I checked this out, I found that Gail was the 94th most popular name in America in 1961.  If you click on the screenshot that follows and insert the information required, you can find out what your name would be today, according to the ranking of popularity for your year of birth.

Read the rest of this entry »


Blogs to follow

I have been doing a little work for the Dorset Writers’ Network in compiling a list of blogs to support flash fiction writers. You can find the link by clicking here. In the process, I reflected on the blogs which I find helpful and came up with the following. This is not an exhaustive list, just a taster of what’s out there. If you have any blogs you’d like to recommend, please let me know by clicking here to contact me. Enjoy!

I first became interested in writers’ blogs after attending a social media workshop delivered by Emma Newman. I wanted to gain ideas for promoting my writing and reporting on writing progress through a blog. Emma suggested following a few blogs before launching myself onto the web and I duly took her advice. I still find Emma’s blog worth reading and it’s especially pertinent for writers working in the genre of young adult fiction, post-apocalyptic fiction and the science fiction and fantasy genre.

Em’s place

A particularly useful blog which promotes free to enter writing competitions is offered by Patsy Collins. She has an established reputation for writing short stories published in women’s magazines.

Patsy Collins – words about writing and writing about words

Patsy has also taken over the popular womag writer’s blog so you can learn more here:

Emma Darwin attended the same part-time, distance learning MPhil studies in creative writing that I’m currently undertaking with the University of South Wales. She now has two well-received historical novels published and offers an erudite blog to support others.

This Itch of Writing

In terms of poetry, Josephine Corcoran’s blog has a substantial following. Her recently published pamphlet, The Misplaced House, is now available and she writes regular posts about the process of writing.

Josephine Corcoran

Joanne Philips is a prolific indie writer. She has self-published romantic fiction, a collection of short stories and the Flora Lively Mystery series. To find out how she achieved this success, see:

A writer’s journey

I always look forward to reading posts on Helen Yendall’s blog. She writes about the trials of trying to make progress as a writer within the context of a busy life. Her posts are funny and informative.

Blog about Writing


From page to stage workshop and performance


I’ve been attending workshop facilitation training with the Lit Up Writers’ Pool since the beginning of 2015. It’s provided a fascinating opportunity to share practice and receive training on working with a range of groups in a variety of settings. The participants are hugely talented and come from many different writing backgrounds including novelists, poets, playwrights, performance poets and more. Please find below information about an event that is being hosted by members of the Lit Up Writers’ Pool. There are workshops for adults and children aged 7-15 years and the opportunity to showcase your work at an event in the evening. Do go along – I’m sure it will be lots of fun.




Write, develop and refine a poem, rap, story, song, short play and perform it in The Talent Showcase that same evening.

Price: £7-50

Where: At the Twisted Teapot, 16 Sea Road, BH5 1DB

When: 30th of May 2015 workshop from 13-30pm to 15-30pm and Talent Showcase from 18-30pm to 22-30pm

Also workshop for  7 to 15 years old

Write, develop and refine a poem, rap, story, song, short play and perform it in The Talent Showcase that same evening.

Price: £5

Where: At the Twisted Teapot, 16 Sea Road, BH5 1DB

When: 30th of May 2015 workshop from 13-30pm to 15-30pm and Talent Showcase from 18-30pm to 22-30pm

For further information contact: and Facebook Myriam Word Maker

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Daft place for a nest

While I’m relieved that the jackdaws haven’t built a nest in the chimney pot this year and the blackbird hasn’t gone for one in the honeysuckle where Killer Kat’s been lurking, only a daft pigeon would have plumped for a nest beside the footpath!




We intended to walk to Hardy’s Cottage today but abandoned the attempt. David said he need to wear a hat and when my ears began to sing, I had to agree. Instead we followed Ratty’s walk through the fields and saw Red 99 and her lamb.



Now the rain has arrived an I’m pleased to be inside a reading a book. This time it’s Bad Blood by Lorna Sage.


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I’m back!

After three and a half weeks in Australia, it’s taken some determination to get back into the swing of writing. Jet-lag, the election campaign and the volume of tasks and activities I’ve undertaken since January have all played a part. In order to sort myself out, I’ve written a progress report which I share with you below. Here’s hoping I can get my act together and reach those deadlines.

Tasks undertaken Progress to date Next steps
Novel: How to be Brave Full draft with reader from Romantic Novelists’ Association for feedback Final draft, proof read and ready to send out
Screenplay: The Hostel First full draft completed Second draft ready for final training day on 17 May 2015
PhD: Transfer paper Full draft submitted to academic supervisor for feedback Final draft for submission in September
Material for 4 one-to-one sessions with publishers and agents at the Winchester Writers’ Conference Covering letters and sample material drafted Finalise and send submissions by 28 May
Entries for Winchester Writers’ Conference competitions Drafted entries for the following categories: short story, flash fiction, first 3 pages of a novel, one page outline of screenplay. Finalise and submit before 15 May
Toastmasters Public Speaking First speech prepared and delivered Second speech to prepare and deliver  20 May
Gain fluency in Spanish Some knowledge of tenses On-going practice


As a reminder that my holiday only ended a week ago, here are some photographs:IMG_0311

Rainforest walks

Rainforest walks

Sunset at Uluru

Sunset at Uluru



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