Monday, 30 December 2013

Wishing Everyone a Very Successful 2014

Hi everyone.  What a Christmas we have had.  How was yours?  My parents in law kept up their annual tradition of presenting me with the brand new edition of the Writers and Artists Year Book. They have no idea how amazingly grateful I always am for this and I fully intend to utilise it a whole lot more in the New Year. I am already  busily planning ahead.  I intend to publish My Writer and get back on track with my poetry and pick up The Epic where I left off a few months back.  Plus I am still planning on relaunching the Young Writers (the library is being deplorably slow coming up with these forms I have to fill out.  I have emailed but tomorrow I will go in and actually see them) - which means coming up with a whole new flyer, re-establishing newspaper contacts to get some publicity and sending out a mail shot to all the previous members to see if they want to come back.  But of course I can do none of this till I know when we can actually start.  I am getting off on the right foot though because I have two refresher sessions planned with my young protege Michael  - the first of which, is this evening.  So even though we are not actually into 2014 yet, I am certainly starting off as I mean to go on.

As for 2013 - well, it was not a total washout.  The first Young Writers' anthology was published; I had The Article and Several Poems published plus wrote thousands of words in Draft One of The Epic.  Plus I got back the Yucketypoo rights so I will be doing something with them before very much longer - as well as writing a whole lot of new stuff.  Anyway  - better go.  Due at Michael's in an hour so no more time till tomorrow.  Happy New Writing Year To Each And Every One Of You!

Wednesday, 11 December 2013


I know.  I know. I have been gone weeks!  I am sorry.  I did not forget you, I promise.  But OMG have I had problems!!!!   Remember I said the laptop needed repairing because the cursor kept doing a tango across the page regardless of what word I was writing?  Well I found this kindly PC Doctor in Croydon who admitted the laptop for a couple of nights, performed miracles and then called to say I could pick the little darling up.  And I did.  And he only charged £45!  AND the repair is guaranteed for three months; so I came home a happy bunny, reunited with my baby aka my creative partner.  A couple of nights later, Steve and I went online and ordered two tickets for next year's tour of Jeff Wayne's WAR OF THE WORLDS (brilliant show; you simply must go and see it) and I was so relieved to be able to go online and do it having been laptop-less for a while.  Then the next night I went back and tried to go online - hey-up - no connection.  I figured this was perhaps a belated reaction to being disconnected for a few days so duly rang BT - who we have our landline with - who ran a few checks and told me I needed to ring our broadband provider - Sky.  So I did.  Sky ran a few checks.  They said it was a BT fault, so I rang BT again.  They insisted it was a Sky fault - and that was pretty much how it went for the next five days.  Finally I spoke to the lovely Leanne at Sky.  She did wonders, taking up arms (metaphjorically speaking)on my behalf against BT who finally agreed there was a fault which was down to them, which they rectified in one five minute twirl of an engineers's screwdriver.  Leanne then was finally able to run all checks and tests and lo and behold, we were back in business!  But ten whole days had gone by where we were laptop-less again!  Anyway - all's well that end's well as Shakespeare said and here I am.  Back in the driving seat and ready to rock and roll.

So how are your Christmas preps going?  We took five of our six grandchildren to see a lovely Christmas show at Fairfield Halls last Saturday where they all got to meet Santa, and I have spent every evening the last two weeks wrapping presents, and our tree is up and sparkling beautifully, so I think we are almost there.  Oh - and the Great Study Swap is done.  It is amazing to have some space  in which to work again.  I have got some BIG plans for next year which I will tell you all about next time.  Oh yes - and I am going to try and get onto this blog at least every two to three days so I will see you again soon ...

Tuesday, 12 November 2013


What is going on with laptop?  The cursor keeps jumping about all over the place necessitating constant editing.  It started about a week and I have no idea why.  Here is what a typical sentence looks like:

the cat sat on the mat the cat sa the maat the mt t on the cat sat on the cat sat on the mat

The middle bit where the italics are, show you how the cursor keeps jumping from word to word. It even jumps a whole line occasionally so something that should only take a few minutes is taking me forever and a
day!  Any ideas anyone?  In fact it is driving me so mad I might be forced to save this and finish it at the day job tomorrow...

Next Day
Well gentle reader, I did not have time to complete this at the day job, so will have a go now.  Made some enquiries today.  I was looking for a kindly laptop therapist who will be able to sort out my keyboard's problems and not charge me the earth.  Alas the two seldom go together but a nice young man in Maplins recommended a place near where I live so I will go in search of this mecca at the weekend.  Fingers crossed.  Maybe if I don't rush or lose my rag with my errant cursor for a bit, I might even get this post finished sometime before two o'clock in the morning.  Well - you never know.

Now where was I?  Oh yes - the publisher for The Book.  Well I am going along the self-publishing route but with some external assistance and guidance.  This is a good chance for me to test the waters in preparation for the eventual re-launch of the Yucketypoo books, now that the rights belong to me again..And  - if it all goes well, I think even my poetry may see the light of day at some point.

I know I always seem to be saying this but once I am all sorted - laptop happy, young writers running again, study move completed, Christmas put back to bed and the new year underway - I might even be able to actually put my two-year plan into action.  Except I have already made a start because I have finally renewed my subscription with Writing Magazine.  And I have already reclaimed Yucketypoo.   And I have already reached a decision about The Book - so maybe I am not the queen of the procrastinators after all.  But I am starting to find my errant cursor a minor irritation so I think I will say cheerio for now.  PLEASE drop me a line and say hi.  Bye!!

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Happy Hallowe'en!!

Just thought I would round off October with a quick post since I have been somewhat negligent of late - sorry for that.  Got back a week or so ago from a midweek break to the Isle of Wight.  We were sooo lucky with the weather!  We had one big storm and then lovely autumn sunshine for the rest of the week.

Does anyone out there know how to fully utilize twitter?  I am trying to raise my profile by writing regular "twaikus" via my mobile phone.  But I never seem to get any response so wondered if I was doing it right?  Is there a Twitter For Dummies book?  If not - why not?  I'd write one myself except I don't know how to utilize Twitter!  Here are a couple of my "twaikus":-

Where autumn turns the leaves
to gold, my heart is golden, too.
Feel the love I'm sending out
especially for you.

Sitting here in suit and boot,
I raise my coffee cup.
Tonight is when the weekend starts;
the only way is up.
Missed the rain,
snoozed on the train,
coffee at Nero's,
caffiene heroes,
ready now to face the day
AND the weekend's on its way.

Ok - I know they are sickeningly cheesy, but hey - at least I am writing poetry again.  And that is about all I can manage this lunchbreak.

Any Twitterites able to help..?

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Returning A Favor For An Old Friend ...

I  think I may have found a publisher for The Book - watch this space for further updates (and an update of The Epic will follow eventually).

Tonight I am actually writing this post as a tribute (and an apology) to an artist by the name of John W Johnson to whom I owe a debt of gratitude.  I came across his website completely by chance once day around ten years ago and found his artwork beautiful, tranquil and inspiring.  If I remember rightly, I dropped him an email to congratulate him on his fine work and, somehow or other, quite a bit of my inspirational poetry ended up on his site, giving it exposure it would not have got elsewhere. You may recall at the start of this blog, I mentioned my very first blog FIFTY AND NOT OUT and upon that for the year or so it was running, I had a number of links set up, one of which was to John's site.  Then when that blog sort of fizzled out, there was a bit of a gap - maybe three years or so, where I didn't have a blog at all.   When I finally started up the blog for the Young Writers - and then a few months later this one - I couldn't actually find the facility for setting up links ( and I still can't).

Right now however I am going to insert the link to John's site in the body of this post by way of saying thank you to John for his support all those years ago.  I also happen to think his artwork is still among the best you can find and I would love to share that with you.  So, before you log off tonight, please take a look at John's work (and John I am sorry I didn't do it this way sooner!) on

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Getting Back On Track

A whole heap of stuff has been happening lately.  Firstly, I think the problem of finding a new venue for the Young Writers is virtually solved.  I am just waiting for a couple of forms which I have to fill in but once that is done, it is more than likely that the sessions will be held at the local library, so a massive yippee for that.  Also, I had another poem published last week and another one accepted for publication - all in the space of a few days.  I have just put in place a month's notice that I want the rights of the Yucketypoo books reverted to me so I can find a new publisher for them.  AND something else really exciting happened a couple of weeks ago.  I was asked to do a motivational speech at the day job and I knew a poem I wrote a few years ago would be perfect for it - but do you think I could find it anywhere?  Then I went on the internet and found that not one but two organisations in the United States had used it to inspire and motivate their teams. I am in America!!!  Well - not physically of course.  Physically I am sitting here in my cramped study, in my jim-jams updating my blog.  But my work - well this poem at least - is in America.  So I printed it off and it went down incredibly well.  So feel as if I am up and running again ....

Sunday, 6 October 2013

A Whole Month ...

How on earth did that happen?  A whole month since my last post?  Shame on me!  I will not do anything so mundane as to trot out a list of excuses other than the fact I was away for a week, my modem went down, the mobile keeps conking out, this flying saucer turned up in the middle of the night and took me to Mars ... I am way above such banal actions!!!!!  But hey.  I am here, now, right?

Finished the sessions with Michael - at least for the time being.  Our last session was three weeks ago.  His mum sent me a text last night to say he had been diligently working on a story for three hours solid and wants to know if I will read it.  How dedicated is this young writer?  I will get back to her shortly in the affirmative.

Sadly, even though the Young Writers were due to start their sessions again a week or so ago, we suddenly found ourselves minus a venue when the coffee shop we usually meet at closed sown unexpectedly.  So now I am looking for a new venue.  I approached the local library yesterday and might be in with a chance there so fingers crossed.  Failing that, I may have to think the whole thing through again.  It is a shame though.  The proprietor of that coffee shop was the first person to show an interest in the idea of a Writing group for youngsters.  She put so much into that place; it is such a shame it did not work out for her.  I hope she is able to pick up the pieces and soldier on somehow.  She deserves that chance.

Gotta go - someone coming in shortly to discuss installing solar panels and I have to hop in the shower.  Be back later with some good news though!!!!!

Thursday, 5 September 2013


Next week I have the final coaching session with my young protege Michael.  What a total experience this has been for me!  When we first met, this ten year old was shy, a little unsure and pretty quiet - although even then I could see something in his work!  Now, we have a confident, articulate and very talented young writer and I cannot believe next week is our last session (although his mother has already asked if I might do a little refresher with him after Christmas).  Tonight, I asked him random questions about all the areas we've  covered; just to see how much he could actually remember and you know what?  He remembered practically everything!  I am so proud of him because really, he did this himself.  I just provided him with the tools!

When I started the Young Writer group, I had no idea how to go about it because, to my knowledge, nothing like it had ever been done before.  So imagine how up *$#@ street I felt I was when I was first approached by Michael's mum and asked to coach him professionally on a one to one basis!  If it was hard putting together a plan of action for a group of children with ages as diverse as six to eleven, then how on earth should one go about coaching one shy little boy!   But I did it!  I planned it.  I delivered it.  And Michael grabbed it with both hands!

You know, when I was growing up, all I ever wanted to do was write.  It is still all I ever think about.  But I can say, hand on heart and without any sense of doubt,  that sharing my own personal love of Creative Writing with so many youngsters, inspiring them to just give it a go - that has given me the biggest blast imaginable - more than getting published, more than holding my first published book in my own hands, more than seeing my first published piece at the age of twelve, more than anything.  Because I gave that to them and opened that door.

I seriously doubt I will ever call myself a failure again!!!

Sunday, 1 September 2013


Thought I was being clever tonight and would set up a new blog  just for my work.  Big mistake.  Found this other blog place on Google and it showed me step-by-step how to set up a new blog.  It looked so easy to do!   I picked this brilliant template and got as far as writing my greeting on the Home page - but when I closed it down to then go back in and check it, guess what - there is nowhere to sign in so you can carry on editing it.  So I shall just have to pretend that never happened and see if I can find something simpler.  I mean per-lease!  I thought this whole techno thing was supposed to simplify our life not complicate it.  I might just try one more time before I give up on it completely.  Tomorrow though, not tonight.  It's already almost 11pm!  Maybe I am just tired and not thinking straight!

Wanted to just say hi, really.  Feeling a bit sad,  My lovely old mum wasn't too well when I went to visit her today. And my Steve had to go into work early so - no-one to talk to.  I'll be okay by tomorrow.  It isn't that I am like Billy NoMates.  I just hate burdening others with anything.  Everyone knows me as happy-go-lucky Jilly, always got a smile.  And really most of the time I have. Just not tonight.  Pathetic, isn't it!

Saturday, 31 August 2013

My Champion!!!

Husband Steve recently suggested we change hobby rooms in our house.  His huge passion until fairly recently anyway, has been to collect Lledo vintage vehicles and he has thousands of them.  In fact an article I wrote about  them appeared a couple of years ago in DieCast Collector Magazine (October edition 2004, to be precise) entitled "I'm No Back Seat Driver" and  it appears that most of the South East has heard about his hobby (seriously - we get gas meter readers coming in saying 'Are you the guy with all the model cars?', this is absolutely true).  And when I was interviewed by one local paper following the publication of the first Yucketypoo book back in 2007, the photographer also knew about them and took dozens of photos of Steve with his car collection (and a couple of me with the children's book I had just had published!!).  Our modest (but lovely) semi-detached house in Addiscombe has three bedrooms (well to be honest, two bedrooms and a box room  about the size of a pocket handkerchief) and, once our youngest daughter had moved out, the second bedroom became Steve's hobby room, since by then I was already established in the pocket handkerchief.

But it became very clear not so very long ago that, since my writing career has started to regain some of its former momentum, my pocket handkerchief study just is not big enough.  Don't get me wrong.  I LOVE it to bits.  The desk is right by the window, there's a gorgeous redwood three-drawer filing cabinet, shelving from floor to ceiling all along the back wall, a book case and books, files and folders in teetering piles all around my comfortable, lumber supporting office chair.  There are three pin boards (one quite big where our map of the British Isles lives, complete with all its colour-headed pins showing everyone entering exactly where we have been on our beautiful islands), one medium sized on the wall behind the desk which features things like business cards, my Society of Authors leaflet, several inspirational photos of notebooks, pens and cappuccinos and various other odds and ends, and a small one featuring around half a dozen half-decent drawings I have managed to produce in all five plus decades of living.  On the window sill, there is a framed letter from The Prince of Wales wishing me luck with the Yucketypoo books, my Society of Authors Membership Certificate (I was elected in during July 2003) and a couple of framed inspirational poems (not by me, I hasten to add),  so I am very at home here, very much in my comfort zone.  But honestly there is not an inch of spare floor space to be seen and it just has not been working for me lately.

Anyway, Lledo cars are not being produced anymore.  You can still buy them from boot sales and vintage car shows, but no new ones have been issued for several years and Steve said to me the other day, "I think I might box up most of these and just keep my really specials one out, so how about we move your study into my room and I'll take yours?"  So now our plan is to start taking all the cars down and packing them into boxes until such times as we can find somewhere bigger to live when they will all go back on display.  It isn't going to happen overnight but we would like to get in done by the New Year.  And, the best things is that it can still house the futon and z-bed for when we have people to stay!

This is the unstinting love, support and belief my Steve has in my writing!  Am I lucky or what?

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Amazing ...

Something incredible happened yesterday!  I had my usual one hour coaching session with young Michael -  so far we have covered Ideas, Developing Ideas, Creating Characters, Planning, Drafting, Structure (to name but a few) - and he is doing really really well.  Yesterday, I gave him four titles and told him to choose one and then spend the rest of the session planning out the story he would write from that title in time for the next session, bearing in mind all the areas we have so far covered.

As usual, when the hour was almost up, I told him I was going down to update his mum on everything and he asked - no he begged and pleaded with me to stay for an extra half an hour.  He absolutely beseeched me!  I was totally gobsmacked.  Even his mum couldn't believe it when I told her.  This is how much this young man is enjoying these sessions; this is how much he gets out of each and every one!  And I opened that door for him.  Me.  And has it helped him? Yes - by God - I see incredible understanding and progress in him every time.  Has it built his confidence?  You better believe it!  But to be almost eleven and ask for more from a clapped-out old scribbler like me - well, that, my silent, invisible friends - is the single most gratifying experience of my entire writing life.  And that is the truth.

As I wandered back towards the bus stop (and no I didn't stay the extra half hour), I realized that I have something very special and unique that I can offer children like Michael and all my Young Writers - and that is (almost)  fifty years' worth of Writing Experience.    I was only seven when I started out.  There was nobody around to show me the way of Creative Writing so I had to learn it all for myself.  Maybe that's why I get such a thrill out of taking Creative Writing to the children?  After all it costs me absolutely zilch to share my passion.  And if I can have one ten year old like Michael begging me to stay for an extra half an hour, then I know I must be doing something right - or even something Write ...

Sunday, 18 August 2013


Was reading Writing Magazine yesterday (yes - the very issue that features my article Catching Them Young on pages 60 - 61, on sale now at W H Smith), when I came upon this article.  It was only a short piece, a couple of paragraphs long (and typically - glancing back through the magazine, I cannot now find it anywhere) but I am going to try it because it is so simple.  I don't know about you, but I have dabbled in some self-publishing.  It is now becoming more and more acceptable for authors to fund their own work (and actually, when you think of it, aspiring musicians have done so for years) and one of my early poetry collections sold so well it went to new print runs for three years running! 

Over the past couple of years, my poetry has taken something of a back seat, really.  I was checking tonight and there is no getting away from the fact that, over the years, I have had a fair amount published in various magazines and anthologies, some of which have won prizes and some of which  led to my being asked to do talks.  I have been very lucky.  I know that.  But then two years ago, I wrote The Book.  This was my first serious foray into books for some time (with the exception of the Yucketypoo books) and, because it is about what I love and know best in the whole wide world (ie. Writing), it became my focus.  Then,  the chance to run Addiscombe Young Writers presented itself and, apart from the odd poem here and there (like the ad-hoc  one I included in this very blog just a few months back, surprising myself as well as anyone reading it), I have not done much.  Most recently of course came The Article (did I tell you it is in the September issue of Writing Magazine on pages 60 and 61, on sale now at W H Smith?) and then The Epic - both of which demanded my full attention.

Now - and here's the rub - I have got notebooks and folders and box-files full of unpublished poetry, all of it tucked away and forgotten and dying from lack of sunshine like the orchid was in my kitchen.  But then I moved the orchid to the hallway and - guess what - it began re-flowering and has five heads this year, its most ever!  So - metaphorically, as I was giving my tiny study its annual clear out this evening - I took all those poems out of the dark and - guess what -they burst into colour again!  Then I remembered that short piece I read in WM just yesterday and the suggestion was this: design a document on the laptop where you can lay out a number of poems so they look interesting, then, when you are happy with it, print off copies yourself and give them to places like libraries and coffee shops so that people can read them at their leisure, free and gratis.  Not only does this give your work some valuable exposure, it gives you - the writer/poet - a huge a confidence boost.  okay - so you don't get paid.  But you get read and that is over half the battle won!  I have now got several dozen copies of a collection of haiku (entitled Breathing) just waiting to be distributed to a few carefully chosen local venues and SIMPLES!  I am a poet again.

So I am very grateful to the author of that short piece in the September WM (not the article on pages 60 and 61  - something about setting up a writing group somewhere) because that person spurred me on to start taking my destiny back into my own hands again.  And who know where it could lead this time ...!

Monday, 12 August 2013

Oh To Be A Writer ...

Sooo much stuff going on!  It is as if my entire Writing Career has woken up after a very long sleep.  And it is utterly amazing!

I have this little person living inside my Creative mind.  I have always just called her my writer and every so often she just resurfaces out of the blue - and suddenly all kind of doors start opening for me.  If I go through a torturous period of Writers Block, she skulks off and sulks in some dark cellar somewhere.  But she really doesn't like it there and I feel terrible leaving her there, so once in a while I invite her back into my writing life and she is all smiles and ideas and hugs me from somewhere deep inside myself! And that is usually when Things start happening! 

For example.  The Article (yes - the very one that first led me to you all those months ago) has just been published in Writing Magazine.  It appears on pages 60 and 61 and reads rather bloody brilliantly (even if I say so myself, which I do).  If just one person reading it decides to give it a go and start a group for local young writers, I will consider my work well done.  Also, my coaching sessions with young Michael are going unbelievably well.  His mum has even asked me to do an extra couple of sessions with him after the final one which was originally scheduled for late August.  What's more, he is getting so much out of it.  What a smart kid!  He is so eager and keen and he hangs on to my every word, absorbing it all like some literary sponge.  I am so proud of the progress he has already made.  Who would have thought something as simple as a one hour Creative Writing  session  on a one-to-one basis could go so well?

On top of all that I have finally - yes finally - got round to submitting the opening chapters and a synopsis of The Book to a fairly new company who spring from the loins of much larger publishing conglomerate.   AND the ideas have started just flowing in from everywhere - I entered a poetry competition the other day on the spur of the moment and wrote one of the best poems I ever have!  All without months of planning, re-drafting, jigging.  The poem came to me and I wrote it.  Job done.  I have been rediscovering long lost manuscripts which I know I can just re-draft and find markets for.  The Young Writers group (currently on summer holidays, rather like the government) is going to be re-launched in September.  And as for The Epic - well ...

Actually scratch that last bit because The Epic and I had a temporary falling out.  But you will be pleased to hear we have since kissed and made up and I am back on track with it (or rather it's back on track with me), so keep watching this space.

Remember that old movie where Jimmy Cagney (I thinks it was) says "Top o' the world, ma!" - well I think I am almost there with him and if any editors are reading this who need a writer get in touch - because right now my pen and I are completely invincible!!!!!!!

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Who's The Daddy ...?

I wanted to talk for a little while tonight about how our stories etc take on a mind of their own.  Take The Epic.  It is now close on 25,000 words but it is not happy.  It keeps sending me back to parts already written and telling me to add more or make changes.  Only two days ago, it opened up several entirely new threads which will be vital to the story.  But how am I supposed to carry on moving on and writing it at all when it keeps taking me back to earlier chapters?  Every time I pick up the pen, the ink and the paper act as if there is some psychic link between them and suddenly I find another 1000 words have appeared from nowhere.  Yet all the time there is this weird niggly feeling that I am writing beyond where the story itself wants to be!  Now I know that J K Rowling had written the last page of the seventh Harry Potter book long before the first book was actually published - and that the rest of it came along as and when, so maybe she had the same ... problem.  As for me, well, I think I am discovering for the first time ever, after a writing career spanning almost forty years, what it is like to actually be a writer.  I don't mean that to sound facetious.  But I can pretty much honestly say that until The Epic, I thought I was the one who made all the decisions about scenarios and characters.  I am now fast coming to believe that it is actually The Epic that's in charge.  Totally bizarre!

Last week - to change the subject - I had my first coaching session with the young boy - let's call him Michael - and tomorrow night we have the next one.  We spent the first half hour or so up in his room as his little brother slept on the top bunk, just talking and getting to know each other a little.  I gave him a short questionnaire to fill out and his answers will help me to shape how future sessions will go.  This is something I have never heard of happening before.  There are tennis coaches, dance coaches, football coaches, you name it - but I am yet to come across another Writing coach, especially for an almost 11 year old like Michael.  It seems I am destined to spend my life pioneering creative writing for children.  How exciting is that?  And to get the chance to work so closely with one small boy with an outsize imagination is pure joy.  I can hardly wait till tomorrow night!  I could really have done with this kind of guidance when I set out on this Rocky Road.  Anyway I will keep you updated.  I know how much you all care for all the fact you are silent - otherwise why would you keep reading my blog?  And I appreciate that, I really do, so Thank You.

If you decide to break your silence and get in touch maybe you can tell me if you are encountering the same obstacles as I am with The Epic?  All comments gratefully received.

Good Writing everyone.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Back Back Back - Back From The Emerald Isle ...

Took The Epic on holiday.  Is this good or bad?  My husband insisted.  I told him - with dogged determination - that I was going to leave it behind.  But he protested with "And supposing you get a flash of inspiration whilst we're away...?"  So into the travel bag it went.  And out it came during the course of our lovely two weeks in gorgeous Ireland.  Three times!  It is now at around 15,000 words - and still growing.  And on top of that I kept a fairly detailed Holiday Journal, too.  So even while I was on holiday, I was writing writing writing.

Was hoping to be in the local park with the Young Writers this weekend - but there is something else going on, a local festival or something, so it is likely I'd only have three turn up.  So it will be the following Sunday (21st July) now, all being well.  Between now and then I have to finish composing the parents' questionnaire, getting the Big Young Writers Short Story Competition finalised, catching up with all the Young Writer admin, coaching  Writer To Be (which starts next Wednesday), proof-reading a poem that has been accepted for publication in an anthology, sorting out where I go next with The Book, trying to find a solution to a Publishing Situation That I Can't Speak About Just Yet and adding to The Epic.  Oh yes - and The Article should be out mid August.  And I still have a full time job to fit in as well.  But you know what?  I wouldn't have it any other way.

Quick question to finish on.  Shall I join Facebook?  I know you won't answer - a writer respects the space required by her Readers.  But I just thought I'd ask....

Tuesday, 18 June 2013


I totally surprised myself today when I started the next chapter of The Epic and it totally ran away from me!  It seems there is some secret telepathic bond between my pen and the notebook, to which I am not privy.  Do other writers find this?  My pen is creating unbelievable sentences and paragraphs which actually have a life of their own - and which have a quality to them that I cannot, in all honesty, say I recognise as mine.  So where are they coming from?  When I first began this story, I had no idea where it would take me (and I still don't) or how long it would be (and I still don't).  But I do know this first 12,000 words plus are Part One.  What will happen when we get to Part Two and beyond is anyone's guess.  It feels a bit like it did when I read the first Harry Potter book (before it became the phenomenon it has I am rather proud to say).  I didn't have a clue where that would lead me either - but I know that several years later I queued at W H Smith's at midnight in order to catch  the first hard back copies of The Deathly Hallows when it was launched.  Maybe next time I queue at midnight outside W H Smith's it will be for the launch of my Epic?  Hey - why not?  I walked into Foyles in London just after my first Yucketypoo book was published and came out with a copy of it clutched tightly in my mitt (and a very stupid grin all over my face!) - so stranger things have happened!

I love being a writer, you know.  I mean just in case you haven't guessed yet.  Even when my pen (and my creative juices) dry up and I get all cross and frustrated - I still love it.  It truly is my passion.  I can talk for hours - not specifically about my work - just about Writing.  To me it is the very essence of me and all that I hold precious.  And if I can share that and help others to feel that magic, then I will do so with all my heart until my last dying breath!  Okay I never made it big.  Nobody has ever heard of me (although I was once asked for my autograph which was quite an experience).  I have never - or probably ever will - reached the dizzying heights of J K Rowling, Philip Pullman or Stephen King.  But you know what?  I am honestly rather pleased about that.  Because it means I have time to engage in my dream.  I never said I was a famous writer.  Just a Writer!

Monday, 17 June 2013

The Writer Returns

Hi - sorry. Didn't mean to neglect you for a couple of weeks but there is just SOOOO much going on in my life right now.  I don't know how I cope sometimes!  First of all - something amazing has happened!  Someone has asked me to privately coach her son in Creative Writing.  This is pure nectar to me and I feel very proud and honoured (okay - I am absolutely chuffed if you must know) that she asked me.  So the past couple of weeks has seen lots of emails and texts flying about as we cross all the 't's and dot all the 'i's, and we met up a couple of weeks ago for even more discussion. I think we are pretty much there now and we start in July. Can hardly wait!  Will let you know how it goes.

Had to cancel yesterday's young writer session.  Bit unfortunate but could not be helped as it was out of my hands.  In a way it helped me out a bit because since I got my weekends back, Hubby and I seem to be fully booked all the time!  On Saturday just gone for example, we were at Wembley Stadium bopping away with The Boss (aka Bruce Springsteen) who was on stage for three hours solid.  No intermission.  No break.  Just three hours of excellent Boss music. What a showman!  Where does he get his energy?  Okay so we were up in the gods and he looked about four inches high but his voice filled that place and blew the minds of around 60,000 people!  Then - yesterday, we got the front lawn done, plus I got in a visit to my old mum (bless her) and we had tea at Hubby's aunt's place which was lovely as his mum and dad were there as was his other aunt and her husband.  Our weekends have never been so chocker!

Off to Ireland soon for two amazing weeks of touring the Emerald Isle.  So excited about that as it is a holiday we have dreamed about for ages and we are really looking forward to it.

Hit my first bit of Block the other day with The Epic.  Maybe I had done too much too fast, I don't know.   I have seriously shied away from it for a few days and I think it is coming back now.  Must be because I am only a couple of hundred words short of 12,000.  That isn't bad for three weeks work!  Anyway will deliberately leave it behind when we go away.  Give myself a complete break from it and then pick it up again when I get back.  Sometimes it is true that a change is as good as a rest.  Big thanks to Keith by the way who is looking after the place whilst we are away.  Appreciate that, mate, thank you.

Next Young Writer Session is on Sunday 14th July, 3 - 4, at Ashburton Park in Addiscombe (weather permitting) so come along and bring your friends.  Be nice to see you.

Good writing everyone!

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

OKAY - I Get It ..

... you have no wish to communicate with me.  That is okay.  I'm happy just as long as people are reading.  And you could always change your mind later.  The offer of the free Evaluation still stands, so if you have second thoughts ...

Did a stupid thing last night.  Stubbed my toe - the second one in on the left foot.  Don't laugh.  It ain't funny!  It really hurts and this evening - despite being in a cold compress for several hours - the toe remains swollen and is rapidly going purple.  Mind you it probably wasn't helped by my hobbling around on it or day.  And when I put my shoe on this morning - the toe protested violently, throbbing and hurting from then on.  Poor toe.  We don't give toes the recognition they deserve really.  We don't even acknowledge them - unless we happen to stub them in the middle of the night!  I hope I haven't broken it.  If it gets any worse I may let my guard drop and go to the doctor.

Before the Stubbed Toe Incident, I had a mighty fine evening yesterday doing nice, safe, writerly things.  I sent some emails.  I picked up my 2013 Writers and Artists Year Book.  Flicked through it. Put it back down again.  But I did find two publishers I am going to pitch The Book to (no - not The Epic - that comes later).  I sent an email to one (as per W & A instructions) and a letter to the other (including the obligatory SAE - which has almost become as extinct as the dodo), so fingers crossed.

All right - I relent - I know you are dying to find out.  I am almost 9000 words into The Epic.  Two bizarre things yesterday presented themselves to be included in the story, neither of which I had even considered.  They just turned up out of the blue.  One of them is a character who, I am convinced, is destined to become Someone Very Important to the story.  I won't tell you what the other one is just yet; you'll find out soon enough.  But it is so curious, don't you think?  I just sit there writing merrily away when BANG! New Character arrives and demands to take top billing.  In fact that is the fourth new character to gatecrash the party since I began!  I mean, who is in charge here?  Clearly the characters.  I am their mere tool!  Keep 'em peeled (as Shaw Taylor used to say on Police 5) because I think other things are going to develop over which I have no say...

Good Writing!

Thursday, 30 May 2013

The Article - Publication

Found out today that The Article is likely to appear in Writing Magazine's September issue - available from August.  Just need to get the photo sorted so the camera is coming to the AYW session with me on Sunday.

Ordered some more business cards last night.  My last lot became null and void when The Hacker got into my previous email and corrupted it because nobody can access that one anymore.  Very pleased with the new design - quite striking.  What's more I found I could order a pad to tie in with them, a pen - I could have even ordered a t-shirt if I wanted to - all with the new image on.  Regret not getting the t-shirt now. Might have to go back and order one.  Never considered myself a brand before - but I am suddenly finding that if I want to improve my profile, I have to be a brand.  It has come as the same kind of shock I felt when I found out I'd somehow become akin to a commodity to my publisher.  That was weird.

Hope to set up a website soon - someone has offered me one free for a month so it might be worth a try.  I'd ask you what you think - but you never seem to reply for some reason or post a comment - even though I know this blog is being read quite a bit now. Please get in touch.  I don't bite you know!  All us writers have to stick together and support each other.  I sold two of my books today by the way and was asked to sign them.  That felt good too.

Come on Mr and Mrs Secretive - give Jilly a call.  Or at least just say hi in the comment box.  Who knows what kind of amazing creative power we could come up with working together!  First one to reply will get a free Reading and Evaluation for their latest story.  Now I can't say fairer than that can I?  And I speak as an experienced professional Creative Writing tutor.

Good writing!!!!

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Write An Excerpt ...

Just thought I would add a new post tonight - even though it is already almost 11pm and I should be heading off to bed.  Got some good news earlier this evening - the Editor is pleased with the redrafted Article, so that bodes well.  Just trying to sort out an accompanying photograph then hopefully I will find out when it is likely to be published. 

The Book ??!!?? (What shall I do...?)

The Epic?  Going GREAT GUNS - estimnate I am at almost 7000 words now and still srcibbling madly.  Only been writing it for a fortnight so guess that isn't too bad.  I am finding I get most done at Caffe Nero's in Sutton - so love working in those places - and also during Lunch at the Day Job.  Got a little tip by the way for any aspring writers passing through.  You know how sometimes, short excerpts of books already published sometimes appear in writing magazines?  Or you catch a page of something in a Kindle advert?  Well next time you are feeling Blocked (as in Writers Block, not a blocked nose), then find a pen and some paper and write a short excerpt straight out of your head.  Believe it or not, several months before The Epic came into being, I actually did this when I heard a couple of my yet-to-be-invented characters chatting in my head one day.  Furthermore, even though it took me several months to actually get started, I am convinced that Excerpt is what actually set the Creative Wheels in motion.  I don't even know if that short piece will actually make it into The Epic.  But the two characters certainly have, so it is a good exercise.

Better go.  Keep yawning and getting up before 6 tomorrow.  Good Writing, Each!!

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Moving On ...

Okay - so when I started this blog, I was writing about The Article.  Then I started writing about The Book.  Now I am going to talk about The Epic. Yes - you read that right. The Epic.

I have never been able to write really long stuff.  The longest book I ever wrote was around 75,000 words and that was a Sci-Fi nearly published in the 1990s.  Or was it the 1980s?  Either way it spent around eighteen months with the publisher - who was then bought out by another publisher just at the wrong time.  To coign the very phrase they finally used when rejecting it - "This came within a hair's breadth of being published'. I kid you not.  In fact somewhere in my archives I have still got that letter.  I think I kept it because I marvelled at their sheer gall!  Then - a few years later - I wrote another fairly hefty tome (hefty for me anyway) that ran to around 70,000 words.  This was not sci-fi.  Inspired by one of the best books ever ever ever written ("The World According To Garp" by John Irving), I decided that I too wanted to write a book about real people.   And I did.  It crossed all the boundaries and dug deep into the human psyche and I tackled some topics in that novel that I had hitherto (fine word) never attempted before.  And it remains to this day probably my best ever piece of work.  But I never even tried to find a publisher for it because it would have completely and utterly destroyed me if it had been rejected just once.  No.  My plan with that book was to wait until I was more established as a 'serious' writer and then just launch it on the world and retire on the proceeds it would be bound to generate.  I do not consider myself an unserious writer by any means.  And I know I have achieved so much more than I ever expected to - and so much more than many people can even imagine.  But actually in the wake of Yucketypoo it felt almost blasphemous to do anything with The Novel.  So I didn't.

And - here I am - some twenty-five years on and The Novel (as opposed to The Sci-Fi which never saw the light of day again), is still tucked away in the filing cabinet.  I'd like to think it will not rot there forever.  In between I have written stories, articles and features anything from 50 words (mini saga published around ten years ago) to 35,000 words (kid's book - never published) with most of my published work being less than 3000 words.  And yet.   A good few months ago I was struck by a What If moment.  I went away with that resonating in the creative ethers of my brain and wrote a few notes - which I promptly lost. But The Idea just would not go away.  It kept gnawing away at me, even as I continued to struggle with what to do with The Book.   Gnawing and niggling, growing and gaining momentum.  It haunted my dreams, occupied every waking moment, took me off into the place my darling husband refers to as  Jilly's Space, which is almost trance-like as more and more possibilities occur to me.  And suddenly, on Tuesday last week, I actually started writing.  One week on I am almost 4000 words in and still scribbling madly.

At this stage I have no idea where it will end up.  The thing that I am so excited about, however,  is the fact that I am writing again - actually writing.  Yes - I know I have been blogging pretty regularly for a year or so and I still keep a journal which I write most days.  I have been really busy with the Young Writers, helping them to publish their work.  And of course The Article found a home with a publisher (who still has not come back to me to confirm anything yet even though it is weeks since I redrafted and emailed it).  And - you've guessed it - I am still procrastinating over The Book.  But I am Writing.  And it is only when I Write that I feel truly Whole. 

My hope is that other people feel that completeness when they write - because it seems wrong not to share it.  There is no other feeling on earth that even comes close to that euphoria, creating and writing and living with those characters wherever and whatever they may be.  It is as close to real magic as it is possible to get and I am privelaged to have that gift.  I have no doubt at all that I will mention The Epic from time to time so watch this space.  And maybe my meanderings will inspire you to take up your pen as well?

In the meantime though, just what should I do about The Book...?  Answers on a postcard please!

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Back Again

Well there you go - a list of published work as promised.  I hope it goes some way to telling you a bit more about my writing history.  You can always skip it if you want, I won't be offended. 

Thought I would add a quick post tonight to go with the list just to say hi and keep my toe in the door.  I hope you have had a busy and productive week.  I am still awaiting the final decision on the new draft of The Article - I sent a quick email to the editor today, so fingers crossed.  I will keep you in the picture.

Had a good session with the Young Writers on Sunday.  We are just finishing a thorough dissection of The Short Story by looking at story types.  We will go back to poetry next session.  I gave out a whole bunch of Certificates of Achievement.  It warms my heart to see the pride on their faces when they receive these - and so they should feel proud, they work really hard at developing their craft and they deserve all the accolaides they can get!

I am still umming and ahhing about The Book. Keep agent hunting? Self-Publish?  Kindle it?  All I know is that it is worthy of publication somehow or other and by George it will get there by wriitng hook or publishing crook.  I have written some absolute tosh in my time.  One of the worst things I ever had published was a children's poem that appeared in an anthology.  I won't tell you which one but suffice it to say it is the only piece of my work I have ever disliked - especially when it did get published.  It was complete drivel.  I don't know how it got to that point!  I also have loads of unpublished tosh.  Editors aren't the only ones with a slush pile, believe me.  But by the same token I pratically do always know when I have produced something good - one of my best poems ever ever ever won an award in a competition, and my favourite haiku ever was published in a magazine.  That is why I know The Book is worthy of all the effort I can put into it.  Just like I knew with Yucketypoo (ooh look - I'm a poet and I don't know it)!

I cannot keep procrastinating over this book.  I have got to get something done - not least because (big drum-roll) - I have now started a new book.

Will I never learn ...?



Children’s column ‘Eddie the Editor’ in The South London Guardian featuring stories including ‘Gilly The Guardian Girl‘ (a series that ran for four weeks), ‘The Incredible Story Of The Boy In The Tree‘, ‘The Case Of The Howling Ghost‘, ‘Christina‘s Christmas Treat‘ and a two-part story ‘The One Inch Boy Crash Lands‘, also a number of poems, features and book reviews as well as running Junior Reporter competitions.

Trebor Bassett
- ‘Jelly Baby Rainbow’, ‘The Jellyland Express’, ‘The Circus Comes To Town’, ‘Wibble Wobble William’, ‘Baby Brilliant’s Clever idea’, ‘Baby Bigheart Goes Flying’, ‘A New Friend For Baby Bonny’, ‘The Great Jelly Balloon Race’, ‘How Baby Boofuls Won The Bouncing Contest’, ‘The Jolly Jelly Band On Parade’ and ‘A Picnic At Milkshake Lake’.

William Levine - ‘’Yabba Dabba Doo’ and ‘Fireman Sam’ (under license)

Beaver Annual 1985 - ‘Touch Of Gold’, ‘Riddle Me Ree’ and ‘Inside A Snail Shell’.

Crystal - The Magazine For Writers - ‘The Girl Who Cried’ ‘Mrs Sparrow’s Christmas Scarf’ and ‘Helena’s New Coat’

Self Published - ‘Presents - A Collection Of Children’s Poetry’ (three editions 1999, 2002 and 2003) ‘Touch Of Gold - and other poems’ (2003) ‘Rivers of Thought - observations in haiku’ (2003) and ‘Nature’s Magic’ (2004)

- ‘Reading’s Cool’ in Lyrical Laboratory, ‘The Snoggleford’s Nose’ in Take A Peek’ , ‘Grandma’s Spider’ in Man On The Moon and ‘Night Vs Day’ in A Bedtime Poem For Every Day Of The Year

Books - ‘Yucketypoo - The Monster That Grew And Grew’ (Lollypop Publishing 2007) and ‘Yucketypoo Slimes Again) (Lollypop Publishing 2009)

Local Radio
- The Boot And Sock Series - ‘A Christmas Surprise’, ‘Spring Fever’, ‘The Tuppenny Mystery’, ‘Bluey’s Awful Monster’, ‘No Sign of Theprincess’, ‘A Christmas Chorus’, ‘Clover’s Christmas Cheer’ and ‘Sam Loses His Way’

Current Projects
- ‘Yucketypoo’s Big Beach Clean-Up’ and ‘My Writer’


Other Work
Articles, reviews and features in The South London Guardian, The Croydon Advertiser, My Weekly, Crystal -The Magazine for Writers, Diecast Collector, Writer’s News, Fate & Horoscope Magazine, Animal Ways, The Unexplained, Tesco Times, Reach Magazine, Linkway Magazine

Crystal The Magazine For Writers, Writer’s Forum, Linkway Magazine, Reach Magazine, The South London Guardian, Harrietsham Parish News, Candle & Keyboard, Breathe Magazine, The Ugly Tree, Daily Mail
and the following anthologies: Poems For Cat Lovers , A Few Precious Thoughts, Serendipity, Poetic Spirit, Life’s Footsteps, As We Look Upon This World, Every Kind Of Love, A Passion For Poetry, From This Moment, Friendship Is A Gift, Rhyme And Reason, Poems For Mum, Moonlit Thoughts, In the Name Of Fame, The Image Of Faith, Expressions, Poetry Now, Love Is A Many Splendoured Thing, Tributes To Dad, Capital Poetry, Life’s A Game, Images In Time, As We Look Upon This World, Valentine’s Verse, To Smile Away The Hour, It’s A Mini Adventure ,Under Your Spell , Life’s Footsteps and England

Children’s Books
“Yucketypoo The Monster That Grew And Grew” Lollypop Publishing 2007

“Yucketypoo Slimes Again” Lollypop Publishing 2009

Other Achievements
Running children’s Creative Writing Workshops and Creative Writing Courses for adults, runner-up in The David Thomas Charitable Trust Writing Awards 2003, runner-up in Writer’s Forum poetry competitions (twice) 2003, being interviewed on local radio, local TV and also in local papers, being invited to do talks at local schools and writing groups, getting The Maple Diploma in Professional Proofreading and Editing in 2005, book-signings. Founding of Addiscombe Young Writers 2012 and publication of their book Word Magic.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Let's Hear It For Writing Magazine!

I was chuffed to get the re-drafted Article written and emailed over to the editor after last week's euphoria at having it accepted.  No-one can tell me I am not dedicated to my craft.  This week, I am starting another crack at the Agents.  I have approached one who has asked for some samples of The Book even though their books are currently full.  Perhaps the fact the Young Writers' group has been so successful added some credence to my first approach - that, plus the list of Published Works I attached.  And yes - I haven't forgotten my promise to you that I would upload that for you and I will do that next time.  I had planned to do it tonight but I had stacks of Young Writer work to go through and comment on - and all of a sudden, it was 10.30.  Another evening gone. 

Have you ever grabbed a copy of Writing Magazine?  Please, please do as it is probably one of the best magazine for writers on the market at the moment.  I bought the June copy from W H Smiths today and it is crammed full of advice for writers of all ages and experience, from beginners to the established.  They publish a FREE newsletter too which you can sign up to on  In fact I will add that link to the profile in a second (if I can fathom out how) because believe me, everyone can benefit from it.  They don't just have how-to articles and competitions.  In the June issue there is a particularly nice tribute to James Herbert - one of my favourite writers who died, as you perhaps know, in March this year.

Anyway - high and buzzing as I am, time is marching on and I still have a quick update to add to the Young Writers' blog.  Keep writing.  And keep in touch.

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Great News!!!

Could not wait to tell you - the Editor has said YES to The Article!!  My first major acceptance since ... well, the last one.  I need to do a bit of work on it and that has begun in earnest but at least it is an acceptance.  What a rush; I'd almost forgotten what it feels like it has been so long.  Don't worry.  I will let you know when and where it is being published as soon as I know myself.  Keep an eye out!

Good writing!!!

Sunday, 28 April 2013

My Book

Having (almost) moved on from The Article (still awaiting  editor's response, but fingers crossed), I have now decided to move on with My Book.  Now don't get me wrong - I may have so far published just two books ("Yucketypoo - The Monster That Grew And Grew" and "Yucketypoo Slimes Again" - signed copies available), but during the (almost) fifty years that I have been writing, I have produced literally dozens of them, most of them "proper" novels, with titles like "Elfin", "The Tutstwaddle Ghosts" and "Three Cheers For Griddle" for children and "In Shadow"  for adults. 

I was dead lucky at the age of eighteen to get some great tutalage from an editor named Aidan Chambers who, at the time was in charge of Topliners - a teenage imprint of, what was then , Macmillan Education.  During our three or so years of association, I produced a number of books for teenagers including "One Boy" , "A Girl Called Sandra" and "Pat And The Kid".  "One Boy" was my first full-length novel which I wrote in about six weeks flat.  Aidan and his team could not have been more helpful in their feedback and everything they taught me has grown with me ever since, including being persistent.

Then for quite a few years, I found that writing and submitting articles and children's stories or poems seemed to work and the novels and books kind of got left behind.  If I think of it next time I blog, I will include a list of my published work and you'll see what I mean.  But one day in 2011, at Croydon Central library, I had my Epiphany.  Then went home and wrote the book I had waited my entire life for.  Any writers reading this (and I hope at least some of you are), will know that when you hit on the right idea, you actually know you have.  I knew it then.  And I know it now.  Furthermore heavy research showed that there is nothing like it on the market - I had found that elusive gap - and it was like all my writing Christmases had come at once.  It is a children's book - quite short in the scheme of things (around 21,000 words), but still the longest piece of work I had produced in many a year.

It is for the target age group of 8 - 10 year olds but its title alone means people of all ages and all walks of life will snap it up (and I know that because I am always snapping up books where the titles have any connection with Creative Writing - oops, almost let the cat of the bag then).  It took me till late last year to get it about as right as I can in three drafts and during that time, I contacted at least a dozen agents and at least half a dozen publishers - yet I could not get a sniff  out of any of them.  Not even with my track record.  So this is my new Quest.  Despite my inherent fear of e-books and e-publishing, I am going to take that route with My Book before this year is through.  So - those 300-plus Viewers of the J P Henderson-Long blog WATCH THIS SPACE ( oh - and anyone with any advice on the next step in this process, please drop me a line)...

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Do It Yourself - A Dead Cert

I have just spent a most pleasant hour designing and printing off all the certificates for my Young Writers following the Mother's Day Poetry competition.  Certificates are very important in the Young Writer's Group because it is the Certificate Trail that gives them something to work to.  Most of the members have already been awarded at least four but I wanted these to be a little different because it was our first competition.  Trawled the web looking for certificate templates I could download and use but gave up because none of them had that personal touch.  Most appear to have been designed for schools.  So I went back to my original template, tweaked it, found some lovely Geo paper and personalised each one with the entrant's name in lovely Edwardian Script.  I feel quite proud.  As much as I'd love to be artistic as well as Wordy, even I have to admit defeat sometimes.  On this occasion though I am celebrating because I have come up with some damn nice certificates that my Young Writers will be proud to receive and show.

Oh!  Article Alert!  I emailed The Article to the magazine the other day and am now waiting to see if they'll take it.  Fingers crossed.  At least the editor actuially asked to see it.  Oh yes!  And my Angry Letter - the one about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's house -  published in last week's Local Paper.  Funny how seeing one's name in print never ceases to awe.  I am sooooo lucky to have seen mine so often.  Yet it is something one never tires of.  Almost addictive.

Lovely day at Neice's wedding last Saturday.  The sun shone all day and she, of course (and I admit I am biased) looked absolutely beautiful.  Even my darling old mum made it to the service which was a relief as she is not in the best of health and hasn't been for some time.  But she absolutely sparkled and Neice was thrilled to bits to see her.  Lively reception - lots of food and dancing -  highlighted when Neice leapt into New Hubby's arms Dirty Dancing Style during "Time Of Your Life" eliciting thunderous applause from everyone present.  It is true - everyone loves a good wedding, and this was certainly a very good one.  Couldn't be happier it all went so well for them.

New job also going well.  I am getting more confident by the day.  That's it for now.  Goodnight and Good Writing xx

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Article Update

Have just written a very angry letter to my local paper following plans to turn a former local home of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle into bedsits.  I don't understand my local authority's complete lack of culture interests, I really don't.  I said that if Rochester in Kent can mark their connection to Charles Dickens with two crowd-pulling festivals a year - why can't our local literary connections be celebrated too?  We have at least five renown authors to celebrate, including D H Lawrence, Allan Ahlberg (whose wonderful Burglar Bill story is still a massive hit with littluns, as well as being a personal favourite) and Raymond Chandler.  I don't know.  I sometimes despair of things like this, I really do.

Had my first Sunday Young Writers session today. Uhmm. So-so.  Not sure if this is going to work, really.  Losing my midweek day off is the one drawback to my new job (which I love, by the way) even though having full weekends back after three years without them has completely redefined my work/life balance.  And not only is that a bonus, but the fact I am sleeping better because I am shot of that gruelling two hour commute at each of my nine hour day, means I am also more inclined to sit in my study and do Writerly things of an evening - like updating my blogs or writing angry letters to the local paper!  I will give the Sunday sessions a couple more tries.  But I know most Sundays are family days, and it is also the day before the kids go back to school and an early bedtime is normally in order, so I guess I will just have to wait and see.  I am not going to give up on it.  I just may need to rethink it ...

Good news re: The Article by the way!  One of the Writing mags I contacted has asked to see it, so fingers crossed for that.  I am just waiting to find out if they want it in hard copy or electronic, then off it will go.  I am so excited!  How did I cope with the anticipation all those years ago when I was sometimes sending out a dozen MSS a week?  Don't worry, I will keep you informed - after all it was The Article that first drew us together, my lovelies!

Good writing everyone.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Magical Ingredients ...

Hey guys.  Just what is it about Coffee Shops and writers/poets going together?  Any writer who is anyone seems to have found that same connection at some point.  I have written so many poems and stories sitting in Costa or Neros it almost defys belief.  Has anyone done a study of it somewhere?  Is it the soothing aroma of a bloody good coffee tantalising our nostrils?  The soft buzz of voices with the background twang of guitars?  The fact that there's just you, your coffee plus whatever writing impliment you have (I am still a longhand, pen and notebook loyalist I am afraid) - and you feel free of everything else going on in your life - just for that hour or so?  It is something that has long fascinated me, and something that will, for me, never change.  I seem to work best in such establishments - please let me know what you think.

Thrilled to bits.  The Young Writer Blog ( is showing over 1300 page views! I know that isn't a huge amount by paparazi standards, but by my standards, it's pretty good.  It means word is getting out there and that is so important.  Be interesting to see how our first Sunday session goes this weekend won't it!  I know I have got one lady who has wanted to enrol her young daughter for months - but couldn't because the little girl is always busy on Wednesdays which is when I used to hold the sessions.  She is now over the moon because it means they can come along, so maybe it isn't such a bad thing after all.  Anyway, we shall see

They can hold a thousand pencils
and write a thousand words
but all they ever really want
is that their voice be heard

for nothing in the universe
equates so to the young
as getting their words noticed
by penwork or by tongue

their imagination's endless
their minds as clear as page
every one of them's a writer
regardless of their age

so stand aside I beg you
and let their fount full flow
- the new age of new writers

forever may they grow

Wow - where did that come from?  And I'm not even in a Coffee Shop!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Writers Unite ....

Been trying to get in touch with a writer to come and chat to my Young Writers but haven't managed it yet.  Do you know one?   It would be great if they write children's plays, poems or stories because then my kids could get to meet them and ask questions and get autographs.  Be good if it is someone quite well known but obviously doesn't have to be - as long as they don't mind giving half an hour or so - we'll make sure they get a nice Cream Tea out of it!  Let me know anyway.  Fingers crossed.

Decided today that I cannot go on not publishing stuff.  It just isn't on.  The second Yucketypoo book was published two years ago now and since then - apart from my blogs - all I have managed is a couple of poems and letters.  Should be a lot easier now I will be working 9 - 5, M - F, in a place that should see me home and dinnered by about 7 o/c (instead of the 8 o/c it sometimes used to be) because I should be able to set aside a couple of hours every night to pursue my dream.  And I will, too.

I seriously thought that having two children's books published would open doors for me - and it has in a way.  Just not the way I was hoping.  I have got an utterly brilliant children's book sitting on my laptop which I know will sell, meets loads of criteria, has a female protagonist (very important if we are to give girls a more positive attitude to themselves) - and fills a massive gap in the market because there is nothing like it.  Yet two whole years of seeking an agent or publisher for it, even with my track record, has proved totally fruitless. 

I don't get it!  Surely the fact I have published stuff means my work is of an acceptable standard?  Surely the fact I have been publishing stuff all my long life means I have something to offer?  But editors and publishers and agents still seem to think I'm a complete novice.  Why do they all insist in their form rejection slips that I look at The Writers and Artists Year Book?  Where do they think I found them?  This particular tome has been my bible my whole life.  As an aspiring writer setting out at the age of 10, I used to spend ages at my local library copying out editors' and publishers' names and addresses so I could submit work.  Yet they still feel they should 'advise' me to 'check out the writers and artists year book'.  Drives me nuts! It is soooooo frustrating - especially when we all know there are people out there, that have no talent (and no right to call themselves writers) publishing books that are well - just not up to speed.

So I have now started putting some kind of plan together.  Not sure if it will work - but I will do my best to make sure it does.  And I will help anyone else who comes along to also find that dream.  Five years of running comprehensive writing courses and workshops for adults (as well as for children) gives me a bit of an edge here.  Want any advice?  Get in touch!  Want to make the most of your writing ?  Get in touch.  Fed up with ploughing a lone furrow? Who ya gonna call?   

Being able to write is a very special and magical gift, not granted to everyone so Issy Whizzy - Let's  Get Writing!  Even if you are only eight!!!!!

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Feedback Required (please)

At today's Young Writer session, two of the mums came up to me at different times and asked why I don't take the Young Writer Concept on the road, incorporating it into schools, local clubs and libraries.  I would so love to do this but I really am not sure how to go about it.  One of the mums suggested I take a proposal to the local authority, including the newspaper articles, the published book, how it began and how it is run etc etc etc - to see if I could secure some funding.  The other asked me some time ago to put a presentation together that she can take to the head teacher at her son's school to maybe take it further there - but with the redundancy, now-totally-kaput-day-job (I finished there yesterday) plus the hunt for a new job (I have a mortgage too) - I didn't get the chance.  I have promised I will do one for her (and I truly will)  before the next session.  But how to proceed from there?

I really want this whole thing to be a huge success.  I want to encourage people to set up other groups, because they are so desperately needed if we are to secure the next generation of Rowlings, Pullmans, Donaldsons, Dahls and Meyers.  Even in the wake of the electronic publishing phenomena, writers and poets will always be a necessity and there is very little in the way of active Creative Writing groups for children out there - out of the school environment - where they can work with real writers and poets and learn about genres, deadlines and developing one's own style etc.  Sure there are websites and quite a lot of online and local competitions for the under-18s to enter (but beware the scammers who only want your money); but that's not quite the same as getting to actually speak to someone, getting real feedback and - most importantly of all - working alongside others in that age group where they can feed off and inspire each other.  I have done talks and workshops at schools and I know there is huge interest in the concept - and now I have also proved such a group can not only be done, but thrive.

So here is my request - any other writers out there - please, please PLEASE get in touch with me and give me your feedback on this.  You don't have to be rich and famous, or published.  You don't even have to write specifically for children.  You may well have a son, daughter or grandchild who has a real love of Creative Writing but don't know where else to turn for tangible support and encouragement for that child.  Let me know if you think other Young Writer groups could work.  Maybe you could even start one?

The more feedback I get the bigger the clout, so tell your friends, relations, teachers, libraians, local writing group members, other writers,  poets, publishers, editors, the W.I, brownies, scouts, beavers, guides - tell as many people as you can to get in touch with me and let's see how far we can take this.  There are future writers about who may never get the chance to follow their dream.  But Addiscombe Young Writers has done that and you can help others to do it too.

Looking forward to hearing from you.  Tell the World The World Needs Writers!
Good Writing everyone - and thank you in advance - and thanks, too, to those two mums for relighting a fire in my belly.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

How Can A Writer NOT Have A Title?

Not sure what title to give this today.  Not sure what I'm going to say if I am honest.  But desperately need to say something.  So here I am.  This is me.  I am Writer.

Had an acknowledgement from the other writing magazine the day after pitching the idea for The Article to them.  Nothing since, but at least they acknowledged I'd contacted them.  Nothing from the Publisher either, so may chase next week.  Have to chase when you're a writer as I am sure you know. Editors have notoriously short memories otherwise.  There's a couple of others I could try failing this first one but we'll see.

I got that job by the way.  It had been offered to me by the time the interview ended.  I start there on 3rd April so wish me luck when you wave me goodbye and all that.  The money is practically what I am on now BUT the hours are shorter - 9 to 5 (yes really - Dolly Parton has a lot to answer for), Monday to Friday.  This means I will get my evenings and weekends back, which is brilliant after three years of having them interrupted by work.  It also means I will have to change the Session days for my Young Writers and not sure if that will work.  Only time will tell.  Hope it works out.  I'd hate to lose it after keeping it going this long.

Think that's it for today.    Next time, I might even put some actual Work on to this blog.  After all - that is partly why I started it!

Catch you soon.  Good Writing!

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Oh What A Glorious Thing To Be...

Definitely on the mend so have spent this evening Being A Writer.  I have pitched The Article to another magazine - and contacted a couple of publishers about maybe putting an actual guidebook together.  Have to do something.  Two weeks from now I will be out of a job!  So here is another part of the Great Plan - put an info pack together to send out to clubs, schools, libraries etc - announcing I am free to do talks, workshops, readings and the like - and that way I might be able to earn some money if another day job doesn't turn up.  What do you think?

Have Young Writers tomorrow.  Going to cover Descriptive Writing with them.  Had a pleasant hour today marking their first attempts at Limerick-writing at the last session.  Some of them seemed to click after several attempts - others found it a little harder.  But at least they tried.  All us writers should learn from these children.  Never give up, write because you love it and share the joy of it.

I'll probably be back tomorrow.  I am rather enjoying Being AWriter again...

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Forget ManFlu...

I am rather annoyed at myself because I have not done a new posting here for several days and this one will also be short.  But I do have a valid reason and that is that I have been knocked for six by some kind of virus.  Theoretically speaking, it cannot be normal flu because I am vaccinated against that every year.  And since I clearly do not qualify for ManFlu, I am calling it JillyBug because you would not believe how incredibly unwell I have been.  What started as a tickly cough in the middle of Monday morning last week had, by Thursday, turned into something on a real mission to finish me off.  It's true! Every muscle ached, every nerve was raw, my head was full of rocks, my chest was tight, my nose was similtaneously blocked and yet constantly streaming and the worst thing of all - no sense of smell or taste.  For three days!!!  Every drink I had, every morsal of food forced into my mouth was minus the very things that make them heavenly - I couldn't have woken up to smell the coffee even if I'd wanted to - and the food was all texture and no flavour.

This means the writing has gone totally to pot - and the first writing mag I contacted re: The Article has chosen to ignore me.  My soon-to-be-kaput-day-job is now full-blown kaput.  The company could not find me a suitable alternative so two weeks from now I shall be redundant. Luckily I already have one interview lined up this week and I have had acknowledgement emails from three others I have sent applications in to so all is not lost.  In the meantime, in between jobhunts and interviews - and now the JillyBug seems to be on its way out - I will make sure the Writing catches up with the rest of me.

I'll be back ...

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

The Article - Next Stage

Despite the fact I am madly jobhunting, I am rather proud to admit that yesterday I actually finished Draft 2 of The Article (I know - don't all cheer at once!)  It reads better, is tighter and is much less me and much more them so feeling very pleased with it.  Furthermore, I contacted Writing Magazine earlier and pitched it.  So I am now officially in the Next Stage.  Watch this space.   Had a good Young Writers session today, too - but if you want to find out more about that you'll need to look at

Want to find out what's happening since Billy-Nomates stuck his oar in?  Well - basically - zilch.  Microsoft answered my Customer Services message, sent via their Customer Services site and, guess what?  They sent me a list of links, none of which have actually helped and one of which simply took me straight back to, yep, you've guessed it - Billy-Nomates who, it seems, is desperate to receive my credit card details.  So then I tried contacting Hotmail.   But haven't heard from them.   So am now stuck.  All my contacts in the writing world are under that email address, and I can't retrieve any of them.  I think this is where I may have to admit defeat.  I refuse to yield to Mr Nomates.  My credit card number is certainly not visiting him any time soon!  I guess I shall just have to start rebuilding my Contacts list from scratch.  And this time, I might even write them down somewhere so that I am never in this situation again.

And now a quick question.  Has anybody reading this ever successfully e-published a book?  If so, please tell me all about it.  Does it work for you?  Are you earning anything from ut?  Was it terribly complicated to do?  Do you get any feedback?  Sorry - just realised that was five questions so maybe I should learn to count?  Nah ... I have always said my gift lies in words not numbers.  Me and Numbers fell out the first time I saw that maths teach whack a kid round the back of the head.  I can't think of any other reason for the head of the maths department to agree when I asked her not to enter me for my maths CSE way back when.  But my English teacher thought I was brilliant.  I even asked for extra homework ... yes, I really did!  See you again soon.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

How Very Dare They ...?

I am sorry but it has to be said!  What do email hackers actually get out of what they do?  This has been bugging me since last Thursday night when I discovered mine had.  What's more I think I am onto some big scam because - like complete idiots - whoever it is has asked me to prove who I am by telling them, in their guise as microsoft, everything about my x-box (I don't have one and never had) and my credit card number (do they think I was born yesterday?).  It shames me somewhat to admit that when the message first flashed up on screen, I was just mildly irritated, but thought no more about it.  But that turned into absolute fury when I realised what was actually happening.  And now they have blocked my main email address (not my gmail address fortunately) and told me it can't be unblocked until I give them proof of who I am by providing such sensitive info.  So tonight I googled Microsoft, found their UK contact details and reported it to them - along with the question of how I can get it back.  I shall also telephone them tomorrow.

What kind of sad halfwit is it that sits at their desk, probably in some dank and dingy squat, and does things like this?  Is his or her life so full of meaningless twaddle that hacking into some poor so & so's email makes their little cup of joy overflow?  Or do they notch them up like a cowboy with his gun as in "Hmmn - one down, only twenty seven million other email addresses to go and I shall (evil cackle) conquer the world!"  Is he or she just lonely?  Maybe they have to hack into other people's cyber lives because they have no life of their own and got called Billy-Nomates at school by kids wearing the latest designer gear who went around in clique little groups from which he or she was excluded?  Well I have news for Billy-Nomates now.  Hacking into private lives really won't up your place in the popularity stakes.  Sorry mate that's just how it is.  Nobody likes a loser!

Anyway, just thought I would let everyone else I know that I can still be reached via blogs or gmail.  What's that?  Oh - The Article!  I am half way through the second draft.  That's slow going for me but I have had a lot to contend with lately - not least Word Magic by the Young Writers.  And, now I have expelled the vitriol over Billy-Nomates and his cyber shenanigans - I can get on with being a Writer again.  See?  It takes a lot to get me down.  I have Words on my side!

Thursday, 14 February 2013

What A Feeling!

Two hundred beautiful Word Magic books found their way home today.  My young writers will be ecstatic when they see them next Wednesday.  I'm pretty ecstatic myself, truth be known.  Definitely time to move on with The Article.  Didn't really have much time today despite the fact it was my Day Off from the soon-to-be-kaput day job.  Funeral to go to this morning (very sad. RIP Ann).  So picking up the books this afternoon gave me a real lift.  If I can get my head round it, I will try to upload a photo of the books so everyone can see what a group of 6 - 9 year olds is capable of.  I will let you know their reaction next week.

By the way - think I may have solved the techno-thing I mentioned yesterday.  Am going to the Young Writers blog next and will try to insert a link.  Wish me luck.  Good to see someone else has 1'd this blog.  Whoever you are - thank you.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

The Article Begins Its Journey

Today I started Draft 2 of The Article about Addiscombe Young Writers.  I am hoping to finish it tomorrow and then I will start touting it.  I know it is worth pursuing this because the South London Press gave the group a totally brilliant mention in yesterday's copy on Page 7 and I am going to write a guidebook eventually.  Well - why not?  I keep saying I want other groups for Young Writers to spring-up.  Maybe I can advise people on how to go about it.

Tomorrow's a big day in more ways than one because I have enlisted the help of my Steve to collect the freshly printed and bound mint first edition copies of the Young Writers' first book Word Magic - their  book.  I can't wait to see their faces next week when I hand them their complimentary copies.  I know how thrilled I was the first time I saw my name in print.  And I was 12 - so a lot older than these guys, most of whom are under 9!  If the book does well then we might even do another one next year.

Now I have re-embarked upon my own quest as a writer, I am surprised at just how much I am getting done - even with my soon-to-be-kaput-full-time job.  The other day I even took the Writers and Artists Year Book to work with me so I can do some research - and that is one hefty tome to carry about as I am sure you all know (after all, I'm guessing that at least some of you are also writers?).

By the way - can anyone help me with a particularly annoying little problem I have with my blogs?  A year or so I set up another blog intending it to do all the things I am hoping this one will do and I forgot about it until recently when the writer inside me was reborn.  The snag is that both have the same name and whenever I type in the blogspot address, that old one keeps coming up and I cannot find any advice on removing it.  Since I'd like to put a link into the Young Writers' blog, I need to get rid of the old one so that when people sign in they get to this one that's all lovely a new and smells like a brand new book (well almost).  Yet I know this one has been viewed because my stats tell me so.  I mean how totally thick am I not to be able to work that out?  All advice gratefully received.  Better go - have Steve's Valentine's cards to write out - and one of them will feature a poem I wrote especially for him.  All together now - Ahhhhh!

Friday, 8 February 2013

The Article

Had a rough count-up on the bus this evening.  The Article is just over 1500 words.  Am now seated at my desk in my best writerly pose, with a stapler holding open my 2013 Writers and Artists Year Book on page 28, which is where the magazine details begin.   I should be on my way to Dreamland as I am up at 6 again tomorrow for the soon-to-be-kaput day job.  But I couldn't resist one little stab at the laptop first.  Big mistake.  It'll be three in the morning before I know it if I'm not careful.  Anyway - at least I am one step further on with The Article than I was this time yesterday.

There was a time that I could knock out two or three articles a week and have them re-drafted, typed, enveloped up and sent off  (with the never-to-be-forgotten sae enclosed of course) in two shakes of a writer's quill.  In those long gone but fondly remembered times, I kept a submission's book which I was forever updating and I'd be working on the next project before the gum on the stamps had dried.   How times have changed.  Here I am writing a post for my lovely fresh new-look blog simply because I had a word count and got the WAYB open beyond the intro page!  Wow - last of the prolific writers.

Never mind - at least I am actually writing again.  Goodnight.  Sweet dreams.  Diary here I come...

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Back In The Wordflow

Wrote an article today - my first one in - oh - that long and a little bit.  I was sitting in one of my favourite coffee shops (Coffee Town, Eltham - check it out) when I thought - I am going to write that article today.  And then I actually did.  Well - the first draft anyway.  It's about how  Addiscombe Young Writers ( came to be and I thought I'd offer it to Writing Magazine or Writer's Forum.  Well - I keep telling people I'd like to see more Writing Groups for Children spring up and figured an article might spur people on.  Of course, my inner writer's plan was to have dinner, get to the laptop and press on with draft 2 with one hand whilst flicking through the W & A Yearbook for submission criteria to both magazines with the other.  The shagged-out-55 year old-about-to-be-made-redundant-for-the-fourth-time-in-20-years me did no such thing, of course.  After working all day (it is getting intense now that the closure notices have gone up), I came home, had dinner - then watched a DVD,  Now it is 11.30 and I should be in bed because I'm up again at 5.45 tomorrow to get to a job that doesn't want me anymore.  Joy! 

Anyway, at least I have my writing, my Young Writers and a resilience to never give up in the face of Writer's Block to keep me going.  And a husband who loves me to bits, supports my writing a hundred and ten per cent and indulges me in just about everything (except a kitten).  I did say that I was planning to make 2013 my writing year.   Now I have refreshed my blog, given it a new colour scheme and vowed to never write grumpy stuff again, I feel as if I am on my way to a better understanding between me, my pen and my obsession with words.  I am not a great lover of the technological world we now live in - but its one major advantage is that you can publish yourself - any time, any place, any where (as the old martini ad used to say) - without all the rigmarole of postage stamps, overworked, overstretched editors and enormous competition.  If no-one reads this - hey - no big deal.  But at least I am writing ...