Pats on the back

Sometimes I feel that I do a lot of writing – and spend a lot of time thinking about writing – without ever having much to show for it. So, it’s worth stopping every once in a while to go over what I’ve been doing and to self-administer much-needed pats on the backs to sustain me for the next couple of months or so.

In the time since I last posted on this blog, I have actually been a busy bee. My buzzing may have been unspectacular, but i have written over 40 000 words of my latest novel, All Hushed, and have mapped out the rest with the help of my lovely mentor Laura of Writers’ Block North East, so that all I have to do now is actually put in the hours and write the flipping thing (easy!). I do feel that it’s finally coming together. I am so glad that I have planned this novel, rather than adopting my usual ‘pantser’ approach.

I have also been sending out my first novel to agents and presses. It is now re-named Gloriosa Superba, which means flame lily. This fits in well with the narrator Gloria’s unsettling interest in fire and poisonous plants, and I think it is a more intriguing title than Blues. I have had a fair amount of positive feedback about this novel, but each person who has read it has made different comments and suggestions to the one before. So it has been a question of deciding which changes – if any- to make to the text before taking it elsewhere if the press which is currently reading it do not snap it up.

Sales of Piece by Piece: Remembering Georgina: A Mother’s Memoir have been ticking over nicely, and I hope that they’ll be given a further boost when I am interviewed in a national magazine in the next couple of months. Georgina’s story will also be featured later this month as part of Make A Wish UK’s thirtieth birthday celebrations. I am planning to make a donation to this amazing charity from the proceeds of this book – more details to follow. If you haven’t bought a copy yet, please do. And if you have, please recommend it to your friends and write a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads.

I have written a guest blog post for Retreat West about the therapeutic power of writing, and a different one for Verbal Remedy about not ‘romanticising’ cancer, especially in children. I have another few guest blogs lined up and I hope that they will raise awareness of my story about losing my gorgeous girl.

I have been thrilled by the way Saltburn Writers’ Group has taken off. We have been going for six months now, and we have a core of enthusiastic members who are contributing to some fascinating discussions and giving each other support and encouragement. I’m also finding it useful in that the group is holding me accountable to word count targets I set for All Hushed. I would love to be more self-motivated, but if getting group members to demand an account of my progress helps my productivity, then I am happy. And I am happy to return the favour and wave a stick at other members, too, of course. We are taking a break in the month of August, but I am looking forward to seeing this lovely bunch of writing friends again in September.

Finally, I have been reading some of my poetry at spoken word events such as the Black Light Engine Room and the Ivy House in Peckham. I am finding that my confidence is growing and I have been enjoying trying out some new stuff on the stage (especially in front of the Ivy House’s amazing sparkly curtains). I am therefore thrilled to bits that the Black Light Engine Room Press has agreed to publish my debut poetry pamphlet early next year. Thanks to p.a. morbid for taking a chance on me. This has been a dream of mine – something I could never envisage when I first started my Creative Writing MA and watched  in awe as other people read out their poetry. Thanks to Teesside University and to Bob Beagrie and Andy Willoughby for instilling confidence in me.

So, yes, I’ve been quite a productive little bee. Pat, pat. Now, the small matter of keeping up the good work…West Street Marske April 2014




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