Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Merry Christmas !

Just a quick entry to conclude the run-up to Christmas 2014 (I may get back before New Year if I can find five minutes) and to wish you all a very Merry Christmas. 

I have always loved this time of year; in fact I have never outgrown the wonder of the season or the magic of Christmas Eve when the air just feels so charged up (especially after dark) and so different to a normal day.  As children, Christmas was always a family time for us.  Even when the purse-strings were tight, we still managed to make the most of every second - making cards and gifts for one another, playing board games after dinner with the tree sparkling in the background.  When our two girls were young, that excitement - though never entirely absent - was reawakened and, now that we have grandchildren and great nephews, there it is again as strong as ever.

I finish at the Day Job at lunch time today and that is it until 5th January when I will be back.  It sounds like a long holiday but Steve and I are here, there and everywhere during that time, including a New Year break in Morecambe - but that's okay.  It's how we like it.

It has been a phenomenal year for me as a writer and poet and I am so pleased that the Young Writer group is doing so well after its shaky re-launch in March.  It has been a year of personal and professional growth for me.  I am very grateful and never stop counting my blessings.

So have a Good One each - enjoy the food, indulge yourself, have a good rest and wallow in the love of your family and friends because it is very precious - and if I don't get back before New Year - well - all the best for that as well!

Thursday, 11 December 2014

SOOOOOO Close!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

When 2014 started all I knew was that come hell or high water my book "My Writer" would be published by the end of the year.  The book itself was written in complete frenzy in 2010.  By the end of 2011 the third draft was complete.  During its creation I began to make tentative enquiries with agents and publishers alike  and once the third draft was finished, I stepped up the search and began approaching various agents and publishers.  I met with brick walls left right and centre.  So I had an editor take a look at it.  She absolutely loved it and got almost as excited about it as me.  She loved the originality of it, the twist in the tail, the whole kit and kaboodle and said to me  "This will get published!" Yet more and more brick walls greeted it and sent it crashing.

Around a year ago, I began to think about self-publishing it.  I had published a number of poetry books myself and also the Young Writers' book "Word Magic" .  A few years before when a traditional publisher took the Yucketypoo book and commissioned two more, I had to do a lot of the promotion myself so I already had an idea of what was entailed.  I looked at at least a dozen sites on the internet that catered for Indie-Authors; some offered an excellent service but charged a lot. Others did a basic package that could be free, but I was new to this game with a book this size and really did not know where to start.  I considered other options.  Should I set up a new blog and just publish it bit by bit on that?  No.  I wanted the book to go out to as wide an audience as possible as a proper book because that is what its very nature demands.  Wattpad seemed a good idea - but they don't really cater for children's books and again - I wanted children to see it, feel it, smell it and treasure it as a book that would hopefully both inspire and entertain them.

I decided on Publish Nation.  I thoroughly researched it first and I was impressed with their range of services and their attention to detail.  I bought a couple of other children's books they'd published and, although one could see that the authors had limited knowledge about proof reading and editing, the books themselves were of good quality, printed on good paper with nice glossy covers.  I also thought they offered much better value for money than some of the other self-publishing companies so that was that.

Publish Nation has been amazing.  I am currently reading my second actual proof copy (having read through three copies on the laptop); so far so good. Each time I have spotted an error, it has been rectified and its excellent presentation is thanks largely to them and in particular to David Morrison who has been my advisor all along.  I will be signing it off very shortly as long as no errors present themselves to me and it should be available both in paperback and e-version before the end of the year, which has been my plan all along.

So I am almost there with it.  I'd have liked to get it out in time for Christmas so it has taken me slightly longer than I anticipated.  But I am going to arrange a proper launch (either February or March) and some book-signings and then ... well ... we'll just have to see.

This is what happens when one truly believes .   Wish us luck - the book and me.  And have a great Christmas.

Hang onto that dream!

Sunday, 30 November 2014


Hi gang.  As usual here is my grovelling apology for not being in touch for a while.  Sorry.  I seem to fit 48 hours into every 24 and I still seem to be forever running out of time!  Don't get it.  Mind you - lots going on (as ever).  I am still getting Superjack orders!  Have decided to wait till the new year before I send my donation for Jeans For Genes - but suffice it to say I will be sending a slightly larger cheque than I originally anticipated!  Also - I have now worked my way through three My Writer proofs and think it is now as perfect as I can get it.  The first time I held that delicious little book in my hand I loved it - warts and all.  Now the warts are all gone and I just need to confirm the final proof and - voila - I will be able to announce an actual publishing date  . SOOOOO excited; I cannot wait for people to see it!  Am planning a proper launch hopefully in February so watch this space.

On top if all that - the Young Writers continue to thrive.  I had twelve children at the most recent session.  We have had to commandeer another table and four more chairs!  And there's only two more sessions this side of Christmas! OMG!  Went out yesterday and bought twenty selection packs to give them for Christmas.  I didn't know what else to give them!  It used to be a notebook and pen but they get one of those now when they actually join - should've thought of that sooner, I suppose.

As far as Christmas is concerned - well - hubby & I are almost done.  We have just two more family gifts to get then we can finish each other's.  To be honest we are both struggling because we have been together for over three decades, living together for two and married for one and a half.  There isn't much we need these days really.  Apart from a bigger house!  And we can't afford one of them just yet.

I will get back before Christmas but I am going to bid you goodnight for now.  So much for my early night!!!!!

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

QUICK (and terribly exciting) APPENDIX ...

You will NEVER guess what?  I received a Tweet from my cousin Steve today (remember him?  He's the one I lost St Paul's Cathedral with back in the day) with some truly awesome news.    Did I know, he asked, that a copy of the second Yucketypoo book (Yucketypoo Slimes Again) was selling in Maryland, USA for £60.00!  Yes - you read that right £60.00 !  My first - and probably somewhat blunt response was Are you joking?  But indeed he was not.  He sent me a link and there it was!  I could not believe it!  I still can't.    It isn't just that it is selling at such an amazing price.  It is the fact it is selling for such an amazing price in Maryland, USA!  Naturally husband Steve's first mercenary question was "So when do you get your cut?"  He was quite gutted when I pointed out I wouldn't.  But he also saw my point when I said that I am sure this turn-about would come in exceedingly handy when I start my Yucketypoo project in the New Year -  when the plan is to find another publisher who will pick the the trilogy up and give it a new lease of life.  For £60.00 it has to.

And in keeping with yesterday's theme - that, to me, is Success!

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Superjack On The Fly ...

Okay - so the charity story Superjack At The Edge Of The World did not make the top bestseller list or get a look in with Richard and Judy - but it has been a huge success!  I have received orders for another four today which I shall put together tonight.  That means a cheque will be winging its way to Jeans for Genes within the next few days. That to me is Success!

The really great thing for me is that the whole Superjack story came to me the second I suggested a fund-raising story to my colleague Claire at the Day Job - whose own little boy succumbed at age just three - to some rare and little known syndrome for which there is currently no cure.  When I wrote the first draft, I did so sitting in my favourite coffee shop the following morning, before starting the Day Job.  I just knew what to say, who the characters were, how the story would develop and even how it would end.  And - because I cannot draw to save my life - I had to make sure it would read well aloud, so I had to give it page-turn-ability in order to keep its target audience interested without the aid of brightly coloured illustrations.  And I did it!  Feedback has been great.  That to me is Success!

Last week I had two more poems published and tomorrow - yes tomorrow I will finally be signing off My Writer.  It has taken a bit longer than I had anticipated but hey - on the penultimate leg now so Watch This Space.  So you see Success is Out There in whatever way, shape or form it is in.  This is the message I try to instill in my Young Writers - and indeed in every student who has ever attended one of my courses or workshops.  Being a Writer isn't about being a millionaire superstar (not that I'd complain if it happened to me - but who would?), it is about getting words on paper, getting it out there so people can see it and touch it and become part of it.  Nobody can write like you can.

That to me is Success.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Happy Halloween ...

When I was fifteen and a half, I wrote an article entitled "Our House Is A Haunted House".  It was around a thousand words long and was the first article I had written with the intention of finding a magazine to publish it in.  And the first one I sent it to - the now long-defunct Fate & Horoscope Magazine - not only accepted it, they asked for another article.  My first commission at barely sixteen!  That first article detailed some of the strange goings-on my family had experienced in our modest council house in Carshalton.  Strange knocks and noises - people singing, whistling, talking, the way the dog would sit at the foot of the stairs and bark at something at the top when all the family were downstairs, things disappearing and reappearing, the apparition of a cat etc etc etc.  Hardly Exorcist material (thank goodness) - but somewhat alarming to experience when you are young and there are no logical explanations to be found.  Anyway Fate liked it enough to publish it - much to my ecstatic delight - and ask for something else to be submitted, so it must have struck a chord somewhere.

I have always had an interest in folklore, myths and legends and my mother always told everyone I was sensitive to all things psychical.  I suppose that is true.  My diaries and journals over the years have been littered with experiences I've had.  In fact it occurred so often that it was as natural to write about as say - bacon and eggs.  I'd say something like - "good day at work, weather appalling, the dog's claws need cutting, I saw this old woman on the bus today who disappeared in front of my eyes.  Baked beans for tea.".

When I was around eleven - long before it became popular to Trick or Treat - one of my little friends and I dressed up as witches and went around the local streets jumping out on people and howling about The Ides Of March.  No doubt about it, I'd love to be a child nowadays on Halloween Night.  Not only must it be tremendous fun, I should think it feels quite adventurous being out after dark dressed as a Hogwarts student or a vampire.

At Halloween I always remember that first article for some reason and the other day at the Young Writer group the assignment I set was an exercise in research.  I asked the Young Writers to find out what they could about Halloween and write it down as a report in time for the next session.  Be interesting to see how they get on.  It is the first time I have set them something like this.

Anyway - just thought I'd reflect a little.  Next time I write a Post it will be more Writing related.
Happy Halloween!

Friday, 10 October 2014

I'm Back ...!

Sorry to have been away for a few weeks.  My life has just been on a massive fast-forward since my last post - daughter's wedding, charity book, setting up the Young Writer exhibition.  The wedding went really well.  Daughter looked great.  Don't normally cry at weddings but wept buckets at this one - especially when the four children got up and did their family speech - OMG!  There wasn't a dry eye in the hotel!  Could not have asked for a better day - the weather was great, everyone had a great time, the setting was amazing!  Made for a very long weekend but worth every second!

Remember me mentioning the charity book I was going to produce for a colleague to help raise funds for children's charities (I did mention this didn't I?)- well I got the final draft finished and printed it off, bound it all up, presented it to colleague - and suddenly I have orders for around a dozen more, so my printer is going to be very busy over the weekend!  Luckily it only runs to eight pages.  Nice that everyone likes the story, though!  Even nicer knowing I can raise funds for worthy causes without running a marathon (I wouldn't make it to 26 yards, let alone 26 miles!).  Plus the story is just plain fun.  It was fun to write and it is fun to read!  I might even do something similar another time.

Spent a couple of hours at the local library yesterday afternoon setting up the displays of work by the Young Writers for the exhibition.  Chuffed to bits with how it looked once I'd finished it.  can't wait to show my members tomorrow at the next session.

As for My Writer - well I have yet to read the final proof but should get it done next week so need to get my marketing cap on and think of the best way to Get It Out There.

Oh yes - and just the other day I won an award at The Day Job....

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Busy Busy Busy ...

Great Young Writer session yesterday.  I had ten members in including one newbie and a random enquiry from a passing parent when the session ended.  Next week I will start collating what will go into the display at the exhibition next month.  The children are getting very excited about seeing their work on view and I am so proud of them.  See  to see how incredibly well it is all going!

Finished the Charity story last week - including the second draft.  I am now putting it into print and have realised the only way I can really raise funds from it for Jeans for Genes is to personally print off and bind any copies requested.  Unless there is a local printer out there who fancies doing it for free - after all it is for a very good cause?  No?  Ah well - I live in hope!   My colleague at work will get the first copy I print off because I wrote it for her.  She will obviously get hers free.  The story is a rather fantastical adventure story called Superjack At The Edge Of the World and it has all kinds of weird and wonderful characters in it, including  Captain Twoheads Nosescratch - the most notorious Space Pirate in the whole ten million year history of space piracy!  More about this after I have finalised it.

Can't remember if I mentioned a month or two ago that I had contacted the local council with an idea to write a series of stories for children to put my hometown on the map.  Have been advised to look into funding and have no idea where to start.  I might see if there are any grants available from the local authority.  I might also look at this new trend - crowd-funding - which I plan to research over the next few days.  I keep hearing about it.  Just don't actually know anything about it.  The idea for the local story books seems to have met with approval.  Now I just need to work out how to go about it!

No further news as yet on the publication of My Writer.  David my publisher is on annual leave and not back till 29th September so the whole project is currently on hold.  Should be available to buy or order from the end of November and once I know for sure, I will spread the word.  I will also organise a proper launch.

Anyway, better go.  Words to write.  Books to finish.  You know how it is for a writer -  busy busy busy!

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

A Day Of Mixed Emotions

The extent of my feelings simply knows no bounds.  I have gone from High as a kite to being full of self-loathing - all in the space of a day!  I was high as a kite when I carried on with a story I am writing for one of my work colleagues whose little boy died a few years ago.  She and another colleague are going to do a parachute jump to raise funds for various children's charities in remembrance of the little boy.  I do not have the guts nor the inclination to throw myself out of an aeroplane   And as much as I say I'd like to do a marathon, I know I would be struggling inside ten minutes.  But I know I can write.  In fact, most of my published books have raised funds one way or another.  With the poetry books it was Great Ormond Street Hospital.  With the Yucketypoo books, it was Clic Sargent.  And - depending how My Writer sells once it is published, I will ensure I make at least some kind of contribution from sales.  Maybe to the NSPCC this time.  Anyway getting back to my colleague, I offered to write a story book in honour of her little boy and as soon as I said it, this idea crashed into my head which has been consuming me ever since!  So I have been writing feverishly and getting such a massive kick out of it!  I have found myself smiling somewhat inanely several times as my pen skims across the page.  Other people must wonder what on earth I am writing about!  So - high as a kite then.

Filled with self-loathing when I seemed to be doing so abysmally at the Day Job.  It is the kind of job that comes and goes.  You are either doing unbelievably well and floating along in a delirium of joy. Or you doing terribly when the only way out seems to be a dive through the nearest window!  My supervisor tells me I am doing great and I have to believe him or else I really would just give up.  But then, right at the end of the day when it did pick up. Whadoyaknow!  High as a kite again!

I also entered a poetry competition during my lunch break today.  It was a particularly poignant poem penned during my last trip to visit my lovely old mum.  I didn't know what else I was going to do with it so I put it into a competition where the first prize is a publishing contract for a book of poetry. Now that I could do with.  So as I put the words on screen - felt almost sad as I thought of the sentiments that brought it about.  But once I pressed Enter - guess what?  High as a bloody kite again. I mean what is going on?  It is hardly hormonal - not at my age!  I just think I must be quite a complex being.  I love doing well at the day job but I yearn to write full time.  I love writing in the evenings - yet it takes every ounce of willpower to climb the stairs, switch on the laptop to actually get going.  Weird or what!

Oh and by the way - the Kindle saga.  What a carry on!  I finally got round to taking it back to the shop a couple of weekends ago.  They fiddled with it and finally  diagnosed it had a fault.  What a surprise!  Could I swap it for another?  Well I could but actually they had none in stock.  Would they be getting more?  Oh yes.  Come back after Tuesday.  Went back Thursday - um - no stock.  So now I have had a full refund but I am completely Kindle-less!  Why is life so complicated sometimes?  I see other people reading theirs almost mockingly.  They clearly have no problems.  Ah well.  Never mind.  Onwards and Upwards they say.  Onwards and upwards!

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Moving On ...

I have just finished correcting the proof to My Writer and emailed it back to David at Publish Nation.  I am so pleased with the layout and everything and I am more convinced than ever that this book will reawaken  interest in Creative Writing because it is the kind of book I would buy for myself - as I buy every book I come across that has a connection to Writing - no matter how vague or for what age group.  I now need any advice anyone anywhere can give me on marketing this book to its best advantage.  I have a lot of ideas - and a lot of contacts in the Writing and Publishing world.  And I have marketed a lot of stuff before -not only my own work, but in various jobs, for the Young Writer group, for a kids' drama group back in the 80s - so I know there are plenty of options.  But I am still open to fresh ideas so please get in touch if you, or someone you know, has any suggestions.  I'd be eternally grateful!

Had a bit of a panic earlier.  Could not get the internet up on my laptop for love nor money!  Had to ring Sky and they helped me re-boot it all so at the moment - touch wood - it is working fine.  Panicked because I was determined to get this book back to David today, even if it meant sitting up all night.  Anyway - it has winged its way back.  It's David's move next.

Still struggling with Kindle.  So desperately want to use it.  Almost makes me sad.  I was so grateful when my cousin Stephen said he could help me with it.  I did send him a message back saying thank you, but haven't heard from him yet.  Me and my cousin Steve were really close as kids.  He was like the big brother I never had and I loved him to bits.  Still do.  But it is the same old story with families really.  As they grow up, find lives of their own, move, have kids - the contact between them just kind of drifts off and that is a real pity.

 I can remember one particularly funny story about me and Steve.  We decided to go to London for
 the day.  He would have been about seventeen or eighteen and I was a bit younger.  We were growing up. Spreading our wings.  Becoming independent people.  And we thought it would be great to go into London for the day so off we went to see the sights - Trafalgar Square, Regent Street etc.  We stopped for lunch in a cafe - I can still remember what we had - cheese and beans on toast - then we went off in search of St Paul's Cathedral.  Couldn't find it after endless walking around.  Finally came across a Tourist Information centre so we went in.  Went up to the counter.  Said "Can you tell us where we could find St Paul's Cathedral?".  The girl behind the counter looked at us a little incredulously and pointed.  "It's over there," she said.  Our eager gaze followed her finger - and there it was - exactly opposite.  How on Earth had we not seen it?  It's big enough!  That still makes me laugh even after all these years.  Anyway I just heard that Steve and his lovely wife Fiona have moved into the beautiful Northamptonshire countryside and I wish them all the best.  And I will say it again - PLEASE tell me what I can do with my Kindle ......

Monday, 18 August 2014

All Systems Go ...

I have been unbelievably busy since my last post!  I have been away, had two family get-togethers,  a token Young Writer session, meetings, day job, proofs to read.  Oh yes.  it has all been happening!  In fact tonight I simply must finish proof-reading My Writer.  And I need to email The Society of Authors, update the Young Writer blog.  And I still need to get back to Wattpad before I am forgotten completely.  I love all this busy-busy-business and I am not complaining.  Not getting a lot of writing done though, apart from the poetry which is bombarding me at all times of the day and night! I have got to find time to start my new book.  How else will I be able to keep the momentum going?  Love it!

Wasn't it a complete shock about Robin Williams?   I remember him in Happy Days and Mork and Mindy. The first film I saw him in was The World According To Garp (the book of which by John Irving remains one of my all time favourites to this very day) and he was amazing in that, equally able to portray a confused teenage boy and a middle aged man in the space of a couple of hours.  He was also brilliant in Good Morning Vietnam, Good Will Hunting,  as the Genie in Disney's Aladdin and of course Mrs Doubtfire. There are quite a few others I remember him in - One Hour Photo, Night At the Museum and various others whose titles momentarily evade me. He was a very talented actor whose comedy timing was faultless and he will be very sorely missed.  If the papers are to be believed he was also the archetypal tragic clown - but I prefer to think of him as the gifted man he was.  Very sad really.

Still having problems with my Kindle Fire HD.  One night a week or so ago, when I emailed and asked for help,  someone rang me from Kindle and told me how to get it all going.  It seemed to be connected  - but, by the next day it was playing up again.  I have had it six weeks and haven't read a word on it apart from emails.  I really cannot understand what is going on with it.  I see other people with theirs and they never seem to have a spot of bother.  Me?  Forget it!  I have had nothing but bother.  So now what do I do?

Anyway.  better go.  It if 9.30 already and I still need to do the Young Writer blog.

Good writing!

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Late Night Writer ...

I have been lucky enough to have two poems accepted in the last couple of weeks.  Just as well really because I seem to be writing more and more of them, lately.  In fact I may even load another batch onto Wattpad if I am not too tired when I have finished this.  If I am too tired well - it will have to wait till tomorrow.  The way I look at it is that I have had two articles published this year and two poems accepted, so I am getting there.  Kind of.  And tonight - fanfare and drum roll - I actually did send My Writer to David at Publish Nation - a couple of days later than planned but done now.  Now I ride the uncharted waters of self-publishing.  I am an Indie author.  You know that movie "You Got Mail" starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan?  When Tom's character first suggests to his online confidente that perhaps they should meet, we see him write the message on his lap top then his finger hovers over the send button for a few moments before he actually clicks it.  Well that was me five minutes ago with My Writer all loaded onto an email and my finger hovering over the send button.  Then I shrugged and just sent it!  It is in the lap of the gods now!

One of the things I really adore about all this tech stuff is that manuscripts can be sent in this way without all the hassle of packaging them up, getting them weighed, dithering over whether to send by recorded delivery or not, buying huge chunks of stamps ( not forgetting one for the acknowledgement postcard and some for the return should it be rejected, God forbid), pushing it into the letter box - and then just waiting. And waiting.  And waiting. I mean you knew it would be at least three days before it even arrived.   Then it would likely as not sit in the slush-pile for weeks.  With email - bam - it's gone!  Whatever would our forebears have made of that, I wonder?

I had this title come to me the other day.  It keeps coming back to haunt me.  The title is Three Times Thirty Fishes.  There I bet that's got you intrigued.  Well believe it or not no matter how intrigued you are, I am ten times more so.  What does it mean?  I have no idea.  I only know it keeps coming back to me over and over again.  I suppose the rest of its story will come to me in time but if you have any ideas feel free to tweet and let me know.  Because damned if I know!

And - at 23.03, I ...yawn ... think it's bedtime o'clock.  Wattpad - see you tomorrow ...

Monday, 14 July 2014

Publish Nation Wins ...

A long, long time ago - half a century in fact - a funny little girl missing three front teeth decided that one day she would be a writer.  It was all she wanted.  When she was twelve, during a class discussion on future careers, she announced this - matter-of-factly - to a class of her peers.  And later still, at fifteen, during a Careers Talk with the Careers Officer, she said it was what she wanted, was all she'd ever wanted and would always remain everything she ever wanted.  That was me of course.  And it is still an obsession, even after all this time.

Naturally, as with everything, you have to learn your craft.  You have to take the blows that come with inevitable rejection slips, get back up and live to fight another day.  You make mistakes and learn from them.  You never ever ever lose sight of that dream - be it dancing, writing, sport, cooking, teaching.  Whatever it is, if you know you want it, it will come.

Back in 2011, I was sitting in a library one day when this idea hit me - bam - right between the eyes.  I took up my pen and began making notes right away.  Those notes soon became the first draft of My Writer.  It was written in an absolute frenzy in just over a month - at bus stops, on trams, in coffee shops, on tea-breaks, well into the night knowing I'd be getting up early the next day.  This story was itching to be told.  it had to be told.

Over the course of the next two years, it was rewritten again. And again.  And right up until earlier this year it was being tweaked, prodded, encouraged, nurtured and enticed as I tried publisher after publisher, agent after agent.  It wasn't as if I was a complete novice.  I'd had two books published by a traditional publisher a year or two earlier and had a track record of published work twice as long as my arm.   I was getting excellent feedback.  An editor I sent it to said "This will be published."  And yet here we are half way through 2014, I have just turned 57 and it remains unpublished.   So I have taken it upon myself at last to actually self-publish it and I have decided to go with Publish Nation.  Their website answers all the right questions, hits all the right notes and their prices are the best in the market place.  There are some good testimonials and I have seen their books for myself so I know they are of good quality.

I have dabbled in self-publishing on a small scale before.  Six poetry books - all of which sold really well in the locality.  Plus the very first one I ever put together where I actually produced half a dozen copies on my little word processor and gave to people - and of course the Young Writers' book last year "Word Magic". With Publish Nation, of course, I will be going to a new level.  The odd thing is that I have considered self publishing My Writer several times before but it never felt right.  Now  feels right so tomorrow I am going to read through it again just to make absolutely certain it is up to scratch and on Wednesday it will go over to David.  I am about to boldly go where I have never been before.  Wish me luck.

Monday, 7 July 2014


Still trying to fathom out my Kindle Fire HD.  It is my birthday tomorrow and I so wanted to get it by then! Never mind.  I will get it eventually!

Have been writing soooo much poetry lately.  I sometimes even surprise myself at the sheer volume of output!  Did you see my Rock 'n' Roll poem on Wattpad?  Ridiculously proud of it!   Oh and my second guest blog has appeared on the e-magzine Women Writers, Women's Books? And I may yet be asked for more so fingers crossed.

Have sent My Writer to yet another publisher.  I will not give up on this ever because I know it will sell. There is nothing else like it on the marketplace! Why shouldn't it sell?  I once said I could see it becoming to Creative Writing, what Ballet Shoes is to dancing.  And, having now run a writing group for children, I know there is a call for it.  Children must be encouraged to write because if they aren't, come 2057 there will be no new writers - just word machines churning out words for money.  You can see how passionate I am about this.  Kids are the most natural and talented story tellers in the world.  Their imagination, at this age,  is boundless and infinite and completely spontaneous.  Watch a couple of three year olds playing and you'll see what I mean!  Sorry to harp on; I will hop off the proverbial soapbox now.

Am seriously thinking of getting someone else in to help me run the Young Writer group.  Not too sure how to go about this but I might see if I can get an appeal in the local paper.  It would really help because there'd be more continuity  with the sessions.  At the moment I am having to just fit them in whenever I can.  it would be a lot better if it could consistently run at fortnightly intervals so if you know any writers in the Croydon area who might want to help keep the momentum going, please send them in my direction.  It is really important.

Okay - that is it for now.  Am off to play with my new toy.

Good Writing everyone!

Sunday, 29 June 2014


I signed up to a book review service recently.  I loved the idea of getting free books to review and I thought why not? Trouble is when I did, my brain was still in 20th century mode and I was thinking of physical copies dropping through the letter box like literature confetti. Wrong!! Naturally virtually all the review requests I got were for electronic copy. Which made me think.

Some time ago, I decided I wanted an iPad. But the more I thought about it, the more bamboozled I became.  Look - I'm fifty seven in less than a fortnight! I'm allowed to be bamboozled by electronic gadgetry, okay!  And being bamboozled by electronic gadgetry is nothing new to me.  I think I have mastered this laptop now.  And I think I am half way there with my camera and my android phone.  But if I got an iPad what would I actually use it for?  What do they actually do?

And once I realised I was going to need something to read whatever books I choose to review, maybe what I needed was a Kindle?  I could not make up my mind one way or the other.  I spoke to a few people who had iPads and they said they didn't know how they managed without it.  Then I spoke to some Kindle readers.  Their argument was that a Kindle would be better because it is designed to hold books, and, since that was mainly what I wanted it for, that made the most sense.

With my birthday creeping ever closer, hubby Steve urged me today to make up my mind.  And I plumped for the Kindle Fire HD.  It can be used for other stuff as well - emails, Twitter, internet, movies etc.  I wouldn't ever use it for movies I know that but I will definitely use it for Books.  So we got it and brought it home and an hour or so ago, I got it all out.  The guy at Currys had set up the account and everything for me - and I have linked it to my email and Twitter accounts.  But after playing with it for an hour, I am still completely in the dark about how to use it.  I have no idea if I am connected to wi-fi or not.  On one screen it said I was.  On another it said I wasn't.  On one screen it advised me  to use free wi-fi - on another I was told I'd need to buy it - £4 for an hour or £35.00 for a month.  I am sure that can only be one option.  I can't believe it is going to cost £35 a month.  My almost-nine year old grand-daughter has one and I am pretty positive her mum doesn't pay £35 a month for that.  Or for her own one either.

In the end, I noticed it was only 40% charged so I have plugged it into fully charge and I will have another play with it tomorrow.   I am quite positive I will eventually get the hang of it because I eventually got the hang of the laptop, digital camera and android phone.  But that doesn't stop me wondering how.  Watch this space.  This could be a new saga.

Coming away from the electronic highway for a minute, the Young Writers had an excellent session yesterday morning.  I had seven regulars and one new member turn up and afterwards had two separate enquiries for potential new members.  One man has five children aged between five and ten that he is thinking of enrolling.  This means our numbers could double by Christmas which would take us back to where we were first time round when I regularly had sixteen youngsters turn up to a session.  When that happens I might need to find another local writer to help me run it.  But we shall see.

So with all this going on I am still managing to find some time to write what I can, when I can.  I am just about keeping on top of everything, although I often wish - as do most of us girls - that there were more hours in a day sometimes.  Because there's still running the house, visiting my old mum and maintaining a full-time job to consider.  And of course I have to save precious time to spend with Steve whom I love more than the entire universe!  So a lady of many facets I have become.

If anyone reading this can give me any advice on how to get the best out of my lovely new Kindle Fire HD please get in touch.  Nobody ever does but I promise I don't bite.  I think we'd get on just fine!  And between me and you I sure could use some advice...

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Where Did That Month Go?

Weird thing today.  Woke up and realised we are almost at the end of June.  How did that happen?  I have had two weekend breaks, a holiday, a funeral - and news of a forthcoming new baby - in that time, had My Writer rejected (again), cranked up my online presence, had at least one  Young Writer session, published three pieces on Wattpad (take a look) and still managed to fit in a full time job, several visits to family and keep on top of the washing.  But I have not really had five minutes to sit down and do another blog post which is appalling!!! 

Anyway, all that is changing as of now.  Here I am at the Day Job, using my lunch break  (not to go shopping for a change) to say hello to you.    Yes - I have been very busy.  Have not yet started my new book  but a dozen or so poems have been born - and rediscovered - over the past few weeks and I have all kinds of irons in all kinds of fires.  I flatly refuse to let the latest rejection deter me from envisioning a successful future for My Writer.  Or the Yucketypoo books come to think of it.  But I know I also need to move on and get stuck into something completely new - including making myself known to more editors.  So I am open to commissions of all kinds - articles, features, special occasion stories or poems, ghost-writing, you name it, pretty much.  So if you need a speaker for your writing group (as long as I can get there; I don't drive remember), a competition judge for the latest story/poetry writing competition (yes I have even done that), would like me to come and speak to your class about Creative Writing... just let me know.  I won't let you down.

So that is about it for now.  Lunch break is almost over.  I have eaten my healthy lunch and, in about eight minutes, will be back to the grind.

Don't ever forget that if you do not believe in yourself, how can you expect other people to?  Go out there.  Make it happen.

Good writing!

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Along Came A Tweet ...

I tell you I am really starting to get this e-thing!  I have posted two pieces of work on Wattpad and other people have actually read them!  I am getting tweets and follows from writers, editors, publishers ... now I can see what all the fuss is about!  The Electronic Gateway has been opened and stuff is pouring through it. But even though I am getting a great kick out of connecting with so many like minded people, I am seriously going to have to remember that, first and foremost, I am a writer!  And that means writing and not spending hours trawling the internet.  So here I am.

Did anyone see the latest Young Writer blog post? If you did you'll see that the group is coming together really well.  There is finally going to be an exhibition of the children's work in October.  I am going to tell them at the next session so they can start thinking about what they'd like included.  And the sessions themselves are such an improvement on what they used to be.  I have learned so much since the group started two years ago and that knowledge is giving me more structure and more options.  And I am still getting enquiries about it, which is really encouraging.  Scanning the internet a couple of weeks back, I found another Young Writer group on there - the Chelsea Young Writers.  So I have contacted them and am hoping to meet up with the organiser in the near future so we can exchange ideas.  Hers is done on a much bigger scale than mine though.  I think they have sessions most afternoons whereas I can only hold two a month.  But it is great to find someone else out there who can see potential at every turn.  I cannot wait to meet up!

Oh yes - and in case you are wondering, The Book is currently with another publisher - a traditional one this time - so fingers crossed.   It has been there just over a week so it is early days yet but I am still hoping this will be THE one.  All the best books take ages to get recognised and mine is no different.  In the meantime its is good to know there are other options out there.

Off to Devon this weekend - hope the weather stays good.  Must remember to take my Holiday Journal.

And that is about it for now me thinks!  Look forward to seeing you when I get back - or not seeing you!
Good Writing!

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Getting To Grips With The Technological Highway...

I am still trying to find my way round the electronic version of Spaghetti Junction!  I think I am getting better at Twitter now, I update the two blogs fairly regularly and I have just joined LinkedIn.  I know I still need an actual website but to be truthful I don't think I am quite ready yet.  I have had several attempts at setting them up.  They all say it's free, it's simple, it can be set up in just minutes.  Well maybe that's the case with my sixteen year old nephew but it isn't with me.  I struggle every time.  Even LinkedIn took me best part of ten minutes despite the fact it tells you it can be done in just a couple.  And now I am thinking of getting a kobo.  That's the really scary bit!  I signed up with a book review service recently.  I have been swamped with requests for reviews but most of them are only available as e-books.  I am trying to reply to each writer but I will have to stick to shorter stuff.  Not only do I have a full time job and a home to run, I also have a writing career to maintain.  I love to read but I am only human.  I am running out of hours in a day already! And I am still seeking an agent or publisher for My Writer AND I need to find a new home for Yucketypoo - as well as all my as-yet-unpublished-poems.  I'd need to be at least three of me in order to fit it all in!  And one is quite enough thank you! Ask anyone who knows me!  Ah well I shall just have to win the lottery.  At least that should buy me a few more hours as an active writer ...

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

WOW ....

Have just found another possible opening on Twitter.  I also saw a poetry competition plugged on there today, which I WILL be entering.  I keep reading that we writers and poets should utilise social media and the internet and lately I have found myself drawn into it more than ever.  I am even thinking of getting a Kobo or Kindle for crying out loud!  And I said I would NEVER do that because I love real live, page-turning, beautiful books far too much.  But where the trends go - as a writer - I willingly follow (but I still draw the line at Facebook) because I am keen to keep up with the evolution of the written word, wherever that may take me!  And if anyone had told me a year ago I'd be saying that today, I'd never have believed them.

Still hunting for an agent or publisher for My Writer.  I cannot believe it is taking me so long when I know without a modicum of doubt, that there is nothing like it on the market place.  I am always reading how finding a gap in the market place is tantamount to getting published yet I have found one and nobody wants to know.  What's more with the Young Writer group working out so well and heading towards its third year, plus the discovery of a similar group for children somewhere in London, I also happen to know that there are more children out there interested in Creative Writing than anyone could guess.  Ah well - another thing drummed into all us writers and poets is how long it took other writers and poets to get their work published - Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach was rejected over two dozen times before anyone took that seriously.  Even Harry Potter took a while to find a home with Bloomsbury.  And Hugh Montgomery had to self-publish The Voyage of The Arctic Tern before a mainstream publisher expressed an interest, so I will just keep plugging away.  I know My Writer is right for someone.  I just don't know who yet.

By the way - more great news - but on a family level this time - I have just become Great Aunt to baby Harry, born last Friday.  And youngest daughter is getting married again in October to the nicest guy! Need one more great event to make it the magical Three (as in things always happening in threes) - which reminds me - I MUST check our lottery tickets tomorrow.  Maybe we'll win enough for me to Write Full Time!  Well you never know ...

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

The St George's Day Squib

Was thrilled to bits on the way to Wales last weekend to see a quaint little English town somewhere en-route, which had pulled out all the stops for the forthcoming day of our country's patron saint.  There was bunting up, St George flags hanging from every shop and notices everywhere for a parade to take place on the day.  I felt a surge of pride.  I have felt for many years that we do not do enough to celebrate St George's Day - especially when you see all the preparation that goes into St Patrick's Day every year wherever you happen to be - not that there's anything wrong with that.  I often feel like joining them and I really admire the way they make such an event of it.

So imagine my disappointment this morning when I was on my way to the day job with not a modicum of English Pride on show anywhere.  Even the paper I read on the train did not mention it.  I was quite gutted at the indifference and felt one of my "angry" poems building up.  This is the result; let me know what you think:-

(C) J P Henderson-Long 2014

On April 23rd you'd think
we people would observe
that fact it is St George's Day
on April 23rd.
You'd think there'd be a rich display
of patriotism on this day
and yet for reasons unexplained,
the dragon has emerged again,
not breathing fire you understand,
just quietly gaining the upper hand
on April 23rd.

Is it wrong to recognise
this country has come far?
Is it dreadful, may I ask,
to be proud of who we are?
Multi-culturism, I believe
is something great we have achieved,
we live and work and play together,
and just accept our adverse weather,
yet that dragon lifts its head,
perhaps old England's really dead
on April 23rd.

Not a flag about the town
nor any celebration,
even the media plays it down
much to my vexation.
Perhaps at length it is a sign
that to indifference we must resign
and let our patron saint just fade.
Perhaps we never made the grade
or maybe we should estimate
that dragon-slayers aren't that great
on April 23rd.

I think it's time we all joined hands
whatever race or creed,
and show the dragon that we are
an awesome group indeed.
Let's be proud of what we are,
each and every one a star,
stand together strong and bold
whether we are young or old.
We must not let that dragon win.
We never ever should give in.
Then maybe there could still be hope

on April 23rd.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Done & Dusted ...

Got the other article done over the weekend and by Sunday evening, both had been emailed to the editor.  By 8.30 Monday morning, both had been accepted - so not a bad start to the week!  The first one will go live in a couple of weeks and the second will follow about a month after that.  Hoping to be able to come up with some more now - I have been bitten by the being-published bug!  As soon as they are up, I will provide a link so you can take a look.  So pleased!

Guess everyone has by now heard that we lost Sue Townsend last Thursday?  I was absolutely gutted and felt as if I'd lost a personal friend.  I loved the Adrian Mole books from Day One and I still read them, in sequence, at least once a year.  Reading her work as regularly as that, I came to regard her as something of a Creative Writing guru.  I loved The Queen and I as well, but had to abandon The Woman Who Went To Bed For A Year after it made me cry - although I may give it another go one day.  I never had the pleasure of meeting Sue but I will always have a bit of a soft spot for her and I think she will be sorely missed. RIP Sue Townsend.

Lots going on in my great big beautiful Writing World.  The Young Writer group is going well and I am bursting with new ideas, new poems, new opportunities.  I am seeing new possibilities at every turn and just wish I had the time to really get my teeth into it all (even as I write this I am sitting at my desk, overlooking the darkened garden, yawning my head off) instead of having to content myself with the odd little nibble whenever I get the chance.   Never mind.  I will always sacrifice time for Writing because it is the only thing that really keeps me sane!

Good writing, all!

Wednesday, 9 April 2014


I set up a Twitter account not so long ago.  Over the months I have learned how to use it to the best advantage, especially from a Writing point of view.  It is great being able to tweet other writers - even people like Dick King Smith  - whom I would never have imagined exchanging comments with before!  Not only has it opened huge doors to me as a writer wanting to communicate with other writers, it has even led to a couple of commissions and yesterday I emailed an article to an editor who had invited me to write something she could feature in her online magazine.  It is only a short "guest blog" on writing for children but she has also asked for one about setting up a Young Writer group and I am working on that  now.  It has given me the opportunity to access articles and features about - and by -  other writers.  It is like belonging to the largest Virtual Writing Group in the world and I love it.  Since learning how to use it I have plugged The Book and the Young Writer group relentlessly and posted a lot of poetry.  There are still things I am none too sure about - like tweeting a photograph.  But that will come in time. If you are interested, you can reach me on @Jilly66408011
and all "follows" will be acknowledged!

Can't wait to hear from you!

Good Writing!

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Being A Writer Anywhere ....

ONE of the most astonishingly wonderful and simple things about being a writer is that you can do your thing  anywhere.  I have sat on high street benches writing,on a seat  in the middle of a shopping centre, in coffee shops (goes without saying, really), theatres (well I was reviewing the show at the time) and yesterday evening, on the tram home from the day job, I thought of a poem and wrote it down, with people and bags and buggies and newspapers attacking me from all sides. Here it is:


I looked up at the clear blue sky
and saw a baby floating by,
then a moment, maybe two,
the baby had become a shoe,
another moment, blink of eye,
the cloud had gone
- and left blue sky.

This was something that came to me spontaneously and was one of those things that just had to be written.  And there was a lady sitting to my right who was clearly intrigued by the fact there was a disheveled person beside her frantically scribbling something in  a notebook - in fact she kept trying to see what it was; I could tell by the way she kept craning her neck!

One of the first things you learn as a writer is to always carry a notebook with you.  I did this instinctively from the age of about 11 anyway, and, even in this day and age, I still prefer notebook and pen.  I do confess I have used the note facility on my smart phone occasionally, usually to mention something I have seen - dog carrying fanta bottle in mouth, pink hearse, the word is paradox - just to remind myself later when I can actually get to my notebook and pen.!

There are lots of hobbies that can only be done in one place - woodturning, for example, or jewelery making - mainly because of the amount of tools and paraphanalia one needs to engage in that hobby.  I love photography which merely needs a camera (unless you are a professional where all kinds of other gadgets are necessary) - and I have seen people knitting on trains.  But writing you can literally indulge in whenever the urge takes you, wherever you may be.  That is one of the best things about it, I think.  It is like carrying a key to the gate of a fantastic kingdom that only you can get into - and that is true magic!

If you like to write, then next time you are out somewhere, look around you.  I think you will be surprised at how many like-minded people are out there.

Then grab your notebook and pen and WRITE about it!!!!!

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Competition Time

Quite by chance the other day, I came upon a list of recently established Literary Agents on the internet.  I almost immediately found two that sounded promising and on Sunday - after cross-referencing them in the 2014 W&AYB -  I emailed the obligatory synopsis and opening chapters of The Book to them, so fingers crossed.    And last Saturday, of course, saw the latest AYW session take place at Ashburton Library.  All five children from the first session turned up, as did two new members, so I was absolutely over the moon!  If two new members turn up every session for the next four sessions, the numbers will be almost up to where they were last year before we lost our venue.  And word is definitely getting out there.  One of the youngsters that turned up last Saturday just came via word-of-mouth!  Which - as any writer knows - is the most effective marketing tool there is!  And it's free.

Having got the submissions off to the two agencies, I have now decided to concentrate on entering a couple of competitions.  My latest Writing Magazine is absolutely chocablock full of competitions to enter so I will round up a couple of the most tantalising (and challenging) ones over the next day or two and get cracking on them.  I desperately want an iPad and winning one may be my only chance of getting it at this point in time.  I like Writing Competitions though, it must be said.  They give you a deadline to work to and guidelines of what they want.  The more you enter, the more confident you get.  It is kind of like a practice-run to being a fully-fledged writer where you have briefs and commissions flying at you left right and centre (and believe me I  know.  I am actually lucky enough to have actually been there for a year or so back in the mid 80s when I had so much work coming in I was actually able to give up the Day Job for a while just to accommodate it all.  And I was getting paid!  I think that was probably the happiest working year of my entire life and  I'd quite like the chance to go back there).

I did quite well in competitions around that time.  I won one and was a runner up in two, and all three pieces were published.  It is always nice when something like that happens.

Don't forget to tweet me @Jilly66408011 or comment just to let me know you are still in the land of the living (she says hopefully).  And I would love to hear from any other writers who keep a blog ...

Thursday, 13 March 2014


Amazing Young Writer Session last Saturday!  I had five youngsters turn up to the first session of the new era - four complete newbies and one "old boy" (who is only actually 9) who belonged to the original group almost from its first day back in 2012.  If you want a complete update go to where my ecstatic ramblings take up a very long opening paragraph!  Suffice it to say I came home afterwards breathing a huge sigh of relief.  And it doesn't stop there.  I have already had three enquiries about the next session!  So the snowball effect starts here!

I am feeling really fired up!  Even though I have withdrawn The Book from The Publisher mentioned last Post (don't ask - long story.  Well ok ask then - it would be nice to get some  sort of response on here!) but I have already got another iron in the fire so all is not lost.  The fact is I truly believe in The Book - possibly more than I have ever believed in anything else I have ever written.  And I know that I will know when the right agent/publisher/editor has come along - rather like you instinctively know when you have found the right new home or job!  It has taken me three years and a growing file of positive feedback to get to this point with this book so another year is not going to hurt if that is what it takes.  I have faith.

As for everything else - well - Steve and I took four of our six grandchildren to Toys R Us a couple of weeks ago so that the two youngest could pick their birthday presents.  Admittedly this particular branch of Toys R Us is HUGE - but before we'd even got ten yards inside the door they were all telling us what they wanted (the older two had pocket money to spend) just from the first shelf of display.  Eventually we managed to persuade them to take a look at the other how-ever-many-thousand-square-footage of shop there was that they hadn't even spotted beyond those first two or three displays and, surprisingly - less than an hour and a half later we left with two huge bagfuls of toys plus four very contented children so all was well that ended well.  And Steve and I have also seen a couple of good shows lately too.  If  "Fame - The Musical" comes within a hundred miles of you anytime soon, you have just got  to go and see it!  It is kinda scary that I can actually remember the original TV series because it was ... well... shall we just say quite some time ago.  And finally if you like reading biographies I urge you to grab a copy of Simon Pegg's Nerd Do Well.

That's it for this post.  Catch up again soon.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014


...till the first session of the brand new Young Writers group.  Despite the fact press releases have gone out, posters and flyers have been distributed, letters have been sent to all previous members and information packs have been sent out to the six most local schools, I am still wondering if anyone will actually turn up! And, as well as all that, there have been the blog entries, tweets, the library have also contacted local has been a marketing merry-go-round!   I keep saying to myself, okay, if no-one turns up, I will let go graciously and move on.  If three or four turn up - well, that could be the start of the snowball effect.  If too many  turn up ... uhm ... Anyway, all will be revealed in time as Laurence Olivier said in Time - the musical many many moons ago!  And don't worry - whatever happens on Saturday - I will let all my silent and shy readers know.

Had some kind of good news this morning re The Book.  I think the publisher I sent it to a month or so ago is seriously considering taking it.  But don't get too excited just yet.  When I know it is all for real and going ahead, I will let you know - boy will I!!!!  In the meantime, watch this space.

Good news re: The Study.  It is about eighty-five per cent done now.  The Stephen Kings are all in a neat row on two shelves.  The J K Rowlings and Sue Townsends take up another whole shelf as do the classics (sorry - am a sucker for the golden oldies - Dickens, J M Barrie, well, you get the picture; I have very eclectic taste).  It is all the others I need to get into some kind of order.  But the stationery cupboard is full.  My Society of Authors membership certificate is in a frame and so is my letter from Prince Charles about Yucketypoo  (yes you read that right), plus numerous inspirational slogans dotted about; my laminated copy of W H Davies' Leisure (my most  favourite poem ever).  Two whole shelves of my own published work, one and a half shelves where all my diaries and journals are lined up (I started keeping a diary in when I was fifteen), black box files lined up like soldiers on parade Yucketypoo one, two and three, the entire series of Boot and Sock stories once broadcast on local radio, and unpublished titles such as The Tutstwaddle Ghosts and Molly The Magnificent Machine.  My entire writing life is in this one room.  No wonder I needed to move out of the pocket handkerchief!  But I love it and would not change any of it!

So that is where I am right now.  In a good place - which is always a good place to be!

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

I'm Back!!!!!!

Woke up this morning feeling back to my old self again.  What happened?  I don't know and I really don't want to know!  Suffice it to say that when I opened my eyes this morning - after my first solid night's sleep in a week - I just knew that the dark clouds had lifted, the monster was safely back in its cave and I was on top of the world!  Phew! What a relief!

Had a good look round the study tonight.  It is so higgledy piggledy!  I still haven't managed to sort it all out. And to add insult to injury, it seems to have suddenly become a storage area for charity shop stuff and boot sale stuff - simply because there's nowhere else for it to go!  It drives me nuts.  Have got a family wedding  this weekend so I am not going to get much done tonight - but afterwards, I am determined to get some semblance of order in here.  I don't mind it becoming a repository for unwanted items as long as all the stationery is in its right place and the books are in some kind of decent order (right now I have Stephen King mixed in with Sue Townsend, kids books with adults books, non-fiction with fiction.  The only thing that seems to be in one place is all my poetry books - thank God for that - I would fade away if I couldn't get to those!)  Yup - higgledy-piggledyness  is really the sign of a disordered brain - now where did I read that?  And I can't have a disordered brain!  I'm a writer.  Or maybe I can because  I'm a writer!

Have been seriously thinking of backing up all my stuff and looking on the Internet.  Why are some Clouds 
free and others not?  Should I trust the free ones?  If they are to be trusted, why aren't they all free?  Or is some entrepreneur out there just trying to rake in our hard earned cash?  How do Clouds work anyway?
Answers on a postcard please ...

Guess what happened to me the other week?  My Steve left for work at 8pm as usual on the Wednesday night and, five minutes later, I heard the front door open.  Thinking he'd come back for something he'd forgotten, I went out to the hall to meet him and saw the front door slam shut from the outside.  I yanked it open but couldn't see anyone - no Steve - nobody.  The street looked eerily deserted.  I shut the door, walked round the house shouting "Hello?  Hello?" (in retrospect this was a really idiotic thing to do but at the time I was still trying to find Steve) and then rang Steve (I was still partially convinced he was hiding somewhere and this was some kind of elaborate joke - not that it is something he'd be likely to do).  He was well and truly on his way to work.  Like my gallant knight in armour he said he'd come straight home but not before barking "Call the police!".  He actually got back just after the police arrived.  They did a thorough sweep (is that what they say or is it only something that gets said in films?) but couldn't find anything - and  Steve took the night off work because I was pretty shaken up.  I suddenly realised how vulnerable I can be. It was a very scary experience!  The police think it was an opportunistic break-in and that my opening the living room door totally freaked him/her/them out which was why they scarpered so quickly.  He/she/they obviously thought the house was empty.  The hall light now stays on all night and the door gets double-locked as we go out (even if one of us is still inside).  Better safe than sorry.  So take heed - there are badd'uns out there.  Anyway I am okay; that is the main thing.

Anyway I think I have bent your ear long enough tonight (can you bend someone's ear if something is being said visually as opposed to audibly.  Is it ok to say I've bent your eye long enough?).  Anyway I just wanted you to know I am back to normal (as if you didn't know).  Catch up again soon!

Monday, 17 February 2014

My Great Dark Monster ....

There are two halves to any brain.  With my brain, one side is full of good intentions, plans, targets, goals and a sense of joy that I am alive and have achieved so much.  Generally speaking this is the side of my brain that is actively in use, tackling every challenge head on, enjoying every little success no matter how small - a published letter or poem, a good day at the day job, an especially nice weekend or time with loved ones.  But then there is the other side of my brain and that side is the one I try to suppress and ignore, the one that wags a calloused finger in my face sometimes and drags down my self-esteem.  It tells me I am wasting my time, chasing dreams that will never come true, that I have been a failure in so many ways.  It says to me - Jilly, you COULD have saved your parents' marriage when you were 12 if you had only tried harder; you COULD have been a great writer if you really wanted to but obviously you didn't really want to because man, just look at you now,  all in a nasty sing-songy, playground taunty kind of voice.   I hate that voice.  There was a time when that voice could wipe out any of my good intentions and did so, frequently.  But I always managed to bounce back and  shut it back into its dark cave and leave it there.   Actually, that voice has been pretty silent for the last couple of years at least.  But it woke up from its hibernation on Thursday last week and I just cannot shut it up right now and that is bothering me.  Not so much the fact it is there.  More the fact I can't shut it up.  I have always managed before.  Why can't I now?

I have been trying since Thursday to pinpoint exactly what started it off.  I am no closer to finding  that elusive answer.  I have not argued with my Steve who is as sweet and loving and giving as ever.  I have not dropped a shilling and found a farthing.  I have not rowed with anyone.  I got a brilliant review at the Day Job, my children, grandchildren and siblings all love me unconditionally.  The Young Writers are about to start again,  I have published quite a few bits in the past year, I have got back the rights to Yucketypoo, The Book is at the Publisher, I have written SO MUCH poetry lately so why this sense  of impending doom?  Why do I feel so down when I am clearly on the up?
I don't know.  I really don't.

All I know is that I need to snap out of it because it is a huge famished dark monster feeding on all my doubts, my misgivings, my sense of worth and I can't let it win, I really can't.  I think there is only one things for it.  I will have to read Og Mandino's The Choice again.  And fight to beat this beast. I will soon have it scuttling back to its cave. I have to start right now ...

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Amazing ...

It is a cold, wet, windy night and, as I sit here at my desk, I can see the raindrops running down the windows and the trees swaying in the wind beyond.  It seems like it has been raining forever but oh, did I see the most amazing rainbow this afternoon?  It swooped across the sky like an artists pallet, very vivid and beautiful! Quite took my breath away!  I'm sorry but I am a sucker for nature's brilliance.  I make sure I notice the magpies playing in the tress, the squirrels racing round the park, the rabbits nibbling at Mitcham Common - anything and everything that compounds the natural world, really.  Everytime I see a sunset or a sunrise or a garden covered in pure white snow, it stirs something within me.  Maybe that is why I am a writer and poet?  It is so nice to know that what stirs me has also stirred writers of times past.  The world maybe moving into a thoroughly cyber age, but no matter how advanced technology gets, there will always be flowers, trees, animals, people and nature to look at in awe and love.

I had a good start to February.  I am up to date with all the Young Writer stuff, have The Book at a publisher and, yesterday, I got home from the day job to find two pieces of published work awaiting me - one is a letter in the latest Writing Magazine, the other is a poem entitled - rather appropriately - HOPE.  I am just so lucky, really.  If I can keep that up then the sky is the limit!  Of course I would love to write full time and earn a living from it - but even if I never get paid from my writing again, I will always love it!  There are lots of things I could live without.  But I could never ever live without my writing!

Tuesday, 21 January 2014


You would not believe how unwell I have been the last few days!  I haven't actually been right in weeks.  I have had this on/off sore throat/cold/virus thing since mid-December but the annoying thing was that in between the bouts - and even during the bouts sometimes - I didn't feel ill; I just felt under the weather.  The sore throat would arrive, hurt for two days and then go and then three days later the sneezes would come for 24 hours and then the sore throat would come back.  It was actually getting right up my nose - literally!  And then, lo and behold, last Friday I started to cough.  I woke up Saturday with a sore throat (again) and by Sunday I had lost my voice completely and the throat felt like it was full of razor blades (remember those? They were what we used before No-No came long - allegedly).  I went off to the doctor yesterday morning and guess what?  I have laryngitis.  So I am on antibiotics.  And all day Sunday and yesterday, I also had a raging temperature.  So I didn't go to work yesterday.  And I didn't go today (the first days I have had off sick in around 18 months).  Finally by about mid-morning today, I began to feel noticeably better.  And my voice - although still gravelly and hoarse ( nay -I said hoarse not horse!) and somewhat sexy like Honor Blackman - is slowly returning to normal.  I am going back to work tomorrow and my manager has promised to find me something to do that will not require me using the phones for the day - which is fine by me.

My sister Sharon - bless her darling heart - said to me "Why don't you use the time to write?".  And I said to her "Good idea!".  But today is the first day I have actually felt like a) getting back to the laptop and b) thinking beyond the next daytime TV show or snooze.  Ah well - never mind - at least I seem to be on the mend now.  And don't you just hate blogs where all people talk about is how ill they have been with their man-flu or aches and pains?  I would never do such a thing!  Honest - you know what I'm like!

So - how are things out there in Blogland?  Do you know what I did the other week in between sore throats and sneezes?  I set up a proper Twitter account.  And guess what?  I already have 12 followers (hey - I know others have got thousands.  And Stephen Fry has about eight million!) but I am a novice tweeter so I don't think 12 followers after two weeks is so bad.  At first I thought - now what?  Do I personally reply and thank everyone?  Is that what Stephen did with his eight million?  He must have tweeted once a minute for the past 750 years to manage that!  In the end I posted one tweet thanking everyone who is following me for following me.  I wasn't sure what else I could do.  And I am still not sure, if I am honest.  I suppose it is like everything else - it gets easier the more you do it.  Now where was I - oh yes - asking how things are in Blogland.  I would also like to physically ask any other writers who regularly blog to tell me how I can follow their blogs?  Nothing feeds off writers like writers and I think it would be really nice sometimes to find out what other writers are doing (as well as writing, I mean) but I don't even know how to start.  So if you are reading this and you are a writer, could you let me know?

Okay - that's quite enough from me.  And if I sound a tad flippant, pray ignore.  I am probably delirious from the hot lemons and antibiotics .....

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Bitter Pills And Honey

I was within a hair's breadth today of giving the go ahead to the publisher who expressed so much interest in The Book.  The one I particularly liked offered a very good service, including promotion, marketing, proof-reading and editing and was not the most expensive of the dozen or so companies I have contacted recently about this book.  They have a good website and I am convinced they really do care - unlike some of the others who lurk outside the doorway of opportunity like half-starved wolves, just waiting to pounce.

Here's a little story.  It is a true story and I know it is true because it really did happen to me.  I was eleven.  I had only just gone up to secondary school.  I wrote this children's adventure story entitled The White Admiral.  It was a simple enough little tale about a young boy who inherits an ivory elephant  (the White Admiral of the title) from his grandfather .  He does not much like it but, because he has fond memories of his grandfather he decides to keep it.  Later that night, unable to sleep, he goes back to have another look at it and makes a startling discovery - it is full of jewelery and money.  And just at that moment, his  unscrupulous uncle creeps in to steal it.  I cannot remember exactly how it ends (this was written over forty years ago don't forget) but I know the uncle produces a gun, which the boy wrestles out of his hand and accidentally shoots him with - only a flesh wound, I hasten to add, nobody gets killed.  All the noise wakes the rest of the household, the uncle is taken to hospital (and presumably later charged) and the boy gets to keep his treasure trove.  This was my first ever attempt at a children's adventure story and I was really proud of it.  I even drew some illustrations if I remember correctly, and I can't draw to save my life!  Anyway I found a publishing company and sent them my book - the only copy I had (another big mistake, but I was still learning my craft remember). And - joy of joys - they took it.  I got an official letter of acceptance and was told a contract would follow.  And it did.  But with it came an invoice for - and I can remember the exact amount to this very day - £249.  I begged, pleaded and cajoled my poor mum to beg, borrow or steal the money, but she was not happy; her maternal alarm bells were ringing.  We went to see a solicitor who advised us to get the manuscript back and avoid this company with a ten foot barge pole forever.  The company was what was then called a vanity publisher.

Naturally, being only eleven and seeing my dream heartlessly wrenched from my grasp, my entire world collapsed.  It took me a long time to get over the heartbreak and the disappointment.  And I never did get my manuscript back either.  Okay - so we all have to learn from our mistakes, but I think that experience at such a young age has left a very bitter taste in my mouth about paying for publication which makes me still wary today in the click-and-fix world of self-publishing.  Don't get me wrong.  When I was in my mid-30s I self published a whole series of poetry collections, one of which went to three reprints because it sold so well.  And really if you stop to look and do some proper research, there are self-publishing, POD and partnership-publishing companies everywhere, plus there are e-books which are doing amazingly well thanks to Kindle and Kobo.    So I am not, in any sense of the word, tarring all such companies with the same brush.

But it still goes to show how, as writers, we all feel the need to prove ourselves.  I have a list of published work as long as my arm, including the Yucketypoo books.  Yet I still feel this urge to prove myself - mainly to myself - even if I have to pay for it.  And even with that list, I have so struggled to be taken seriously by publishers and agents since My Writer was born three years ago.  I know they are inundated with unsolicited manuscripts and work incredibly long hours and invest oodles of pounds shillings and pence into their authors.  But when you have been writing and publishing stuff as long as I have, a form letter telling me to look at The Writers And Artists Year Book - as if I am a ten year old novice - is soul-destroying!  So, can you blame me as the months and then years have gone by since I wrote The Book, for feeling a tiny bit frustrated?

Anyway, I have not committed The Book to that company as yet despite the fact they appeared to tick all the boxes, because another possibility has come along that may yet solve the riddle of why it has taken me so long to reach this point with my masterpiece.  And on that note, I will sign off till next time.  Watch this space..........

Sunday, 12 January 2014

On Our Way ...

Amazing things are going on in my life.  I had a meeting at the library yesterday to dot the i's and cross the t's for the relaunch of the Young Writers and guess what?  We start again on 8th March (see for more details) and have another four sessions pencilled in between then and the end of April when it will all be reviewed with more dates being added to the calendar.  I cannot believe I have managed to pull this off when the group looked, less than three months ago, as if it had reached the end of its yellow brick road!  I know it is early days yet.  Quite possibly nobody will turn up on 8th March in which case I will know I have been whipped and bow out gracefully to lick my wounds.  But  I can't see that happening. A few weeks ago two of my original members came up to me on the tram and asked when it would be starting up again.  And of course the fact it is in the library means that it can all be a little more consistent, with no last minute cancellations so I am strongly of the opinion that the library has actually saved this group and I will never ever be able to thank them enough.

All this means that I am going to be ultra busy throughout the remainder of January and the month of February getting The Word Out, contacting former members, issuing posters and flyers and just making sure everyone knows about it - and you can help by spreading the word!  So if you know any budding  J K Rowlings or Roald Dahls please tell them about Addiscombe Young Writers - and tell me too so I can send an  info pack out to them!

Had a massive fright earlier today (changing the subject just a bit) when I went to turn my laptop on.  It wouldn't work.  At all.  Well, that is not quite true.  The screen lit up but zilch happened.  I pressed this button, that button.  I pressed CTRL, ALT, DELETE time after time.  But it just glowed passively at me, not a click or a whir to be heard.  What was wrong with it now?  Steve is absolutely convinced that computers are out to get him.  I only switched it on because he wanted to go to some webpage or other (he is Technophobe personified - unless it is the TV or Stereo, and lately his basic little mobile phone which I got him for emergencies  a couple of Christmases ago, all of which he seems to master in a matter of moments - so maybe he is just a computerphobe, who knows?).  When he came into my new spacious and airy study (such bliss, I am completely at home in here) and saw the glowing screen and my dejected look he took it very personally and asked that exact question. "What is wrong with it now ?"  Followed by the grim promise that he would throw it out of the window if it did not sort itself out right now.  Then he said something that scared me even more.  "What if you can't get it back?  All that stuff on it!  All those photos!"  This made me Think with a capital "T".  I know I need to back everything up but ... erm ... how?  Most of the photos are still on the memory stick - but not all of them.  And what about my poems.  My book?  My article?  All those letters?  All that previous Young Writers stuff?  It either seems to cost a fortune or, when I finally got it back and its manufacturers sent a pop up to back everything up, I was told I needed three blank DVDs to do it for free.  So I figure I should get those tomorrow and give it a go.  You will not believe how relieved I was when it did finally awaken from its self-induced coma.  And how did it do that?  I pulled the plug on it and let its own battery die, then plugged it in and prayed it would re-boot itself. And  - phew - it did!

Anyway I think that is enough for now.  This is the longest post I have done for a while.  Hope you aren't too tired!

Good writing!!!!

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Let's Get Writing ...!

I got a brilliant email the other day (actually, I got two but I'll talk about the other one later).  It was from my contact at the library.  I have now got the go-ahead to re-launch the Young Writers!  I am having a meeting this Saturday morning to finalise some dates.  I would love to start it this month but I am going to suggest February so I have plenty of time to get The Word Out.  I need to contact all the former members, get some flyers out, put some notices up and - if I can - get some letters out to the most local schools.  I also want to get The Advertiser and Guardian (the local Guardian, not the national one) back on board but I will have to tread carefully.  It might need to go through the library's own press office.  I do not want to be stepping on any toes, especially since the library will not be charging me anything to take the place over two hours a month!  You know, I think I must be one of the luckiest people in the world!  And here's a little secret.  It isn't the first time I've done it either.  When I was in my late teens I decided that what my then local area needed more than anything in the world was a drama group for children and teenagers.  There were lots of drama groups about, but most of them were for much more - shall we say - mature people.  There were a few youth clubs about (anyone anywhere remember Centre 21 in Cheam?) - but there were a lot more bored kids running around; bored kids who loved taking part in school shows.  I joined a local social committee and within a few months - with a lot of help from my committee mentors and my family - Ace of Spades Drama Group was born.  We did six or seven shows over the next three or so years; all with members aged from 11 to around 17 (and were later joined by Jack of Spades which catered for younger kids).  Maybe I will tell you the whole story one day, who knows?  The point I was making - and this very important - is that anyone can achieve anything if they have faith in themselves and their abilities.  You just have to believe.  Anyway keep an eye on this blog (and the Young Writers one) and I will keep you updated.

As for the other email - well, here's a little mystery.  I somehow stumbled upon the website of a new publishing company I had never heard of before.  This must have been last Thursday or Friday.  I read through it, liked what I saw, and sent them a brief enquiry about The Book (yep - just realised that the other day I gave its actual title so the cat is out of the bag).  And Guess What?  They have asked for a synopsis and some sample chapters.  Yes!  Yes! They really have!  Yet this time last week, I had never heard of them so how did that happen?  I will probably organise that tomorrow night.

And now, my invisible and silent friends, I have to go.  I am desperate to start sorting out my poems and making my lovely spacious study look less like a parcel depot full of sundry boxes.

Good Writing!

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Oh Boy ... !!

Hello!  I am in such a good place right now!  The Study Swap is completely done (I still have some sorting out to do but I am in), I have just been given the go-ahead to re-launch the Young Writers (, I have done a bonus session with young Michael with another one scheduled for tomorrow evening (although that will be the very last one, I think), I am within an inch of publishing The Book, I have my new Year Book and I am utterly fired up!  I have written so many new poems over the last few weeks and I am itching to get back to The Epic.

Believe me, I have big, HUGE, G I N O R M O U S plans for 2014.  I love where my desk is now.  I am right in front of the window (where the rain is pattering away - again), I have my nephew's CD playing softly in the background (he was quite a big singing star as a little boy and sometimes I still like to hear his beautiful voice as it was in those days) and I am teeming with ideas and enthusiasm.  I hope this lasts.  It is a Writer's High matched only by seeing one's name in print.

Went to visit my old mum today, bless her.  She was in good spirits and we had a nice visit.  I never stay more than a couple of hours because she just gets so whacked out.  She had her 83rd birthday on 27th December and the whole family turned up to help her celebrate. It was brilliant but she was completely exhausted by the end of the day.  When I was 16, I got my first acceptance letter from a magazine who had taken an article and commissioned a second one.  It was the letter I had waited my entire childhood for and on that day, when it arrived, I ran sobbing into my Mum's arms I was so overjoyed to have finally made it. We talked about that momentous occasion today and I just have to say a huge thanks to her.  She has always encouraged me in my writing endeavors, supported me through many a rejection and shared in my joy at publishing another piece.  When my first Yucketypoo book was published she was as over the moon as if she had written it herself.  Naturally, since meeting Steve, I have found another cheerleader and my grandchildren think having a writer for a gran is the coolest thing on earth.

Maybe its is because things have got back to normal - Christmas is back in the loft, everyone is back at work - but I just feel so incredibly thankful for everything.  My life is amazing.  My life as a writer even more so.  And I have my blogs.  What more can I ask?