So…..I finished my first chapter, hated it, tore it up and started again. And I hated that too.

I didn’t think it was ALL bad, so I was keen to salvage some of the descriptive prose, born out of my more inspirational and creative moments.

My first chapter was set in Highgate cemetery.  I had stumbled across that most amazing place whilst surfing the internet (as you do) and decided that was going to be the site where my love interests meet.

I like happy, cheerful locations! No really, it suited the gothic essence of my story.

Having not visited Highgate cemetery and the potential of such a visit eluding me in the foreseeable future, I scoured archives of the site and mustered up enough imagination to suitable describe a cemetery full of fantastic graveyard Victoriana.

I put the final dot at the end of my last sentence and read it through several times, but still it lacked something…an ingredient,  a little bit of glue to bind it tighter, that little bit of magic, which makes an opening chapter explosive.

I was quandrified. (Yes, I know there’s no such word, but WHY isn’t there?)

I decided to speak to some peers, namely the wonderful community of BookRix, and posted my first chapter.

A lovely lady popped up. I call her Steelie, but I won’t tell you her real name (Gwen). She pointed out, in a most dignified way, how I hadn’t described my main character.

I was stunned.

Stunned that I had failed to offer any descriptive characteristics of my main protagonist. Turns out, on deciphering my faux pas, that I was so busy trying to describe the cemetery, I simply forgot my man.  

That’s how not to write a book.

Characters and the development of them are vital if you want to grab the reader’s attention.

Don’t allow cardboard cut-outs to walk your pages, as I did with Mark Buzzard. With a name like that (one I stole from the guy who fixes my computer) he deserves a few distinguishing features or at least an account of his clothes and whether or not he is a follower of fashion. With a name like that…he wouldn’t be!




Yes, okay I’m coming clean. I went AWOL and I’ll probably do it again.

The reason for this startling confession is that I’m feeling terribly guilty for not keeping up with my daily blog and….

…I’m getting obsessively involved in my new novel, ‘The Song of the Underground’

You should see my office. I’ve got a flipchart easel with 4 coloured pens and a great wad of plain paper.  I’ve got posters pasted on walls, pictures, maps and bits of research stuck everywhere. It’s a veritable feast of information ready to go down on paper; a bestselling novel waiting to happen.

You must have felt this too; my adoring public (I think there’s three of you now)…That feeling of excitement when an idea begins to take shape, the thread of it developing into different avenues as you pile more and more ideas down on paper.  It’s Euphoric!! I hope you agree.

I HOPE you agree, so that you’ll understand the reason for my absence from my web page. It’s not that I don’t want to talk to you and it’s not that I haven’t got the time. It’s because I’m once more travelling that elusive road to publication and if I want to reach the end, I have to devote my energy and concentration to the thing I hope will get me there. My new book.

So, my next blog will be about how I’m getting on. How I move from that stage where the research I’ve been mulling over begins to take shape in the form of a book.

When I find out, I’ll get back to you.

Keep watching.


I had another two today. Rejection letters that is.

I received one via email and I was, of course, as gracious as ever in my acceptance of their response to my submission. Gracious, as in…they didn’t actually hear the words I expelled from my terse lips and what they don’t know can’t hurt them...That kind of gracious!

The second was via proper mail, when I was enjoying my lunch.

Jake (now in Coventry somewhere) dumped the envelope in front of me whilst I slurped my chicken-noodle cup-o-soup. I recognized my handwriting on the front and knew immediately it was another ‘no thank you’ letter by return.

I have to say, when I ripped it open in the vague hope that it may contain a little note with ‘Send us your full M.S.’ written on it, I was a little taken aback at their turn of phrase. Instead of the line I have often fantasised about; ‘We think this could be big’, this one read ‘We don’t wish to represent you.’

Just like that!

Oh, okay! Don’t worry about breaking it to me gently. Say what you mean, no need to flower it up, I thought, as I scraped my noodles from the bottom of the cup; suddenly ravenous.

I thought their one-liner was rather odd. Mainly because I’ve had all the bog standard replies. ‘We love your work, but we feel it’s not for us, good luck elsewhere’…or…’We have already over-committed ourselves this year, so regretfully we have to decline on this occasion…blah, blah, blah.

But this one yesterday, dare I say…it felt an insy-winsy bit abrupt.  A tiny bit curt. A bit...

I often ponder, without an ounce of gloating on my part (ahem), how those agents who rejected JK now feel. Surely, they must be kicking themselves (or someone else) in view of her success.

Wouldn’t heads have rolled, when it was discovered that it was actually Jean on the front desk who sent back the Harry Potter manuscript with a big red cross scrawled on the front.

And where is Jean now? Did they fire her or just demote her? Did she get another job? And if so, did she declare on her CV that it was in fact she who told JK Rowling’s her wizard story would never take off?

Okay, so I’m not JK, but my book is pretty special, in my totally unbiased opinion.

So I ask myself, will I too one day be able to shake hands with a guy at some publishing hot-shot party and look him in the eye, when I tell him it was his agency who told me ‘We don’t wish to represent you’?

Ooh, I hope so! (No malice intended).

I’ve been canvassing for votes all this week. Some of you may already know this and have your fingers hovering over the ‘delete friend’ button.

But, before you do…..

I am reminded of a chap who knocked on my door last Sunday.

He had a bag thrown over his back and his opening line was. “Don’t worry, I’m not a burglar.”

Instead of an amused look on my face as I stood there guarding the entrance, he received a grimace. You know that face you do when you know you should be polite, but you just can’t be bothered.

He tried the sympathy approach. “Sorry to call on a Sunday. But I look after my family during the week.”

Yeah, right! I thought. What? Your kids don’t go to school then?

“Can I come in?” he asked. His foot was raised slightly as if he was expecting me to step back and usher him into my home.

Okay, if it was Brad Pitt…maybe I would have. But he wasn’t, so I didn’t.

He started getting annoying then…’It won’t take a minute’….’I’m not selling dusters or anything’…blah, blah, blah!

“Go on, clear off,” I said.

Only joking! A bit of embellishment there.

“I’d rather not. I’m a bit busy…” That’s more like it. I’m a sucker for someone in need.

So off he went, his shoulders hunched over, as if he'd lost his final life-line.

When I recovered from the guilt of ruining that man’s day, I went back to my canvassing; pleading and begging my friends on face book to vote for me.

So, if you’ve got your finger on the ‘delete that annoying person’ button. Stop!

It won’t take a minute. I’m not selling dusters or anything.
(register first and then vote)


Someone asked me recently where I get my ideas from. I asked her if I may respond publicly and assured her I wouldn’t mention her name. (Sue)

Again, this question circles my circle; often discussed and deliberated. We all have different ideas, all have different ways of getting inspiration and we all have different means of expressing ourselves.

For me it’s all about murder.

Yes, friends! In case you didn’t know this about me, I have an astute criminal mind. Stories like poisoning my husband with a casserole, shooting my boyfriend with a little pink pistol, burying someone alive, killing off one of my victim’s when she was lying in an iron lung…that sort of thing.

I also have a keen sense of the absurd.

I remember having to call-out a chimney sweep one winter and when he arrived we had some playful banter. He was such a funny character that as soon as he left, I wrote a story about him and ended up giving him a heart attack. Even now, I worry he’ll recognize himself in my story and be offended that I didn’t allow him to live.

A review from a dear peer:- ’Can’t you write something where your characters actually survive?’ he said.

“Hmm, that’s a thought,’ I answered. So I wrote a story, included him as a character and killed him off.

I just can’t help myself. Writing brings out the devil in me.

Seriously, if you need inspiration for what to write next, my advice would be to look around you. There are stories everywhere, in everything you do and say, in everything you see.

For example, yesterday I sat for three hours in a packed water park watching my kid’s frolicking. Surrounding me were hundreds of stories. In the people I observed, their habits, their clothes and their bodies, the friends they were with, their children and so on.

Whilst I sat there with dark glasses covering my eyes, I saw a man come in through the gate. He had a gun in his hand. He was looking for someone. He started pointing it at all the people. Everyone was screaming. People were running in all directions as he charged through them. Suddenly a single shot was fired and a woman fell to the floor of the splash pool. Then as the man turned the gun on himself, the water continued to churn through the fountains, turning red, leaving pools of crimson at the feet of the children…

Oh…I have got to write that one up.

Here's the casserole story. I won £250 when this was published. Yum yum!!

Its only 500 words and it's called 'Death by Misadventure'