“I have always loved stories. When I was a child I would make up my own versions of the stories I read or watched. As soon as I understood what being a writer was it was my dream to become one but thinking that the chances of making it as an author were too small I embarked on a career teaching English, seeing that as a way to pass on my passion for stories and words. While this was a rewarding career I still longed to write.
In 2005 I had the chance to pursue my writing more seriously when we moved to Australia for a year. Not teaching gave me more head space and time. I joined the Queensland Writers Centre, did a few workshops and started writing on a regular basis. During the year I wrote several short pieces, fiction and non-fiction, which made it into print. I was even paid for one! I also completed a novel, proving to myself that I could write a full length work of fiction.
Returning to the UK in 2006, continuing to develop my writer's craft, I did a post-graduate certificate in creative writing at Newcastle University. This progressed onto an MA, completed in in 2010. I wrote more short stories, which started to be accepted by magazines and journals, and a second full length book which was longlisted in several competitions, giving me real hope that my writing had potential.
My first ‘break’ was winning the 2011 Writers’ Block Home Tomorrow competition. I was surprised when my name was called at the award ceremony, later being told that one judge said my entry was the stand out winner. This short story, simply called ‘Home Tomorrow’, was republished in the Stories for Homes anthology in September 2013.
Having worked hard on honing my writing craft during I got numerous short pieces in print and both my short stories and full length books placed in national and international competitions. Finally, in 2016, my first novel was published by Cinnamon Press - part one of my Celtic Colours Trilogy, Green Dawn at St Enda’s. Alongside this I was awarded full funding to study for my PhD in creative writing at Northumbria University. My project focused on part two of the trilogy, Herself Alone in Orange Rain, published in Oct 2017 with part three, White Leaves of Peace, following in April 2019, all released bu the wonderfully supportive Cinnamon Press.
From 2016-2020 I continued developing my own writing practice, publishing more short pieces and being awarded more commendation for my work, alongside running a range of writing courses, master classes and creative writing projects as well as holding a couple of write-in-residence roles and editing and mentoring other writers who could benefit from my input. My fourth book, Rock God Complex: The Mickey Hunter Story appeared in print in autumn 2020 and Cinnamon have committed to publishing the next book I write as well. All this let me be bold enough to reply, 'I'm a writer,' to the question, 'What do you do?'
None of this has been easy. What I have achieved has come from hard work, actively seeking out opportunities and pursuing them, and putting a lot of time and energy into my writing. But it does show what can be done if writers are serious about their work and prepared to put in the effort.
Whether you are just starting to write or haev been writing for some time there are two simple steps which, if followed as fully as possible, will help you achieve your potential: 1. write as well as you can and 2. get your work out there! You may want to do some writing courses, join a writers’ circle or get some professional appraisals of your work to help you hone you craft. Then take the plunge and start submitting work to suitable publications or organisations and entering it in relevant competitions. Don’t let rejection dishearten you. Believe in your work; if you don’t no one else will. Above all keep trying. A piece rejected by one publication may well be accepted by another (several of mine were accepted on a second or third try). It will, more than likely, take a while before you make inroads but be patient. If you want it enough you can make it happen.
Best of luck with your writing!”
Me at a reading event, launching the Cinnamon Press short story competition winners' anthology that I was delighted to have a piece published as a competition runner up 2014
Left - the book launch for White Leaves of Peace
Right - a book signing event at Waterstones