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Morecambe, Lancashire, United Kingdom
In the mornings I’m a Nursery Cook, the rest of the time a Writer. Been writing for decades: short stories, plays, poems, a sitcom and more recently flash fiction, Creative Writing MA at Lancaster Uni and now several novels. Been placed in competitions (Woman’s Own, Greenacre Writers and flashtagmanchester) and shortlisted in others (Fish, Calderdale, Short Fiction Journal). I won the Calderdale Prize 2011, was runner-up in the Ink Tears Flash Fiction Comp & won the Greenacre Writer Short Story Comp 2013. I have stories in Jawbreakers, Eating My Words, Flash Dogs Anthologies 1-3, 100 RPM and the Stories for Homes anthology. My work’s often described as ‘sweet’ but there’s usually something darker and more sinister beneath the sweetness. I love magical realism and a comedy-tragedy combination. My first novel, Queen of the World, is about a woman who believes she can influence the weather. I’m currently working on a 3rd: Priscilla Parker Reluctant Celebrity Chef. Originally from West Midlands, I love living by the sea in Morecambe, swimming, cycling, theatre, books, food, weather, sitcoms and LBBNML … SQUEEZE!

Saturday, 10 November 2012


I have written this for next time I get a phone call asking for a Mr. Cheeseman, Mrs. Cheeseman or Jeanie Cheeseman. I’ve printed it up and put it by the phone. Now I have my speech ready I’m sort of looking forward to the next call.

‘I’ve had many calls asking for Cheesemans. There are no Cheesemans here. I’ve had this number since September 2010 & there’s always been just me – a non-Cheeseman. It’s a lovely name but it’s not my name. I’ve never been a Cheeseman, never will be a Cheeseman and do not want to be a Cheeseman. If there was a man made of cheese here I’d have eaten him and he would be unable to come to the phone. Please tell your computer and all your friends that this number is not a Cheeseman number. Thank you.’

Hope it gets recorded for training purposes …

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Strange British Customs

Alexei began to try hard with his English as soon as he moved here. He looked words up, wrote down them and repeated them out loud. Every day there seemed to be something new. He also wanted to get to grips with the many strange British customs he kept encountering.
After a delicious evening meal at his boss’s place, her husband went into the kitchen to make the coffee. Alexei smiled to himself. He folded his napkin carefully and stood up. He walked around the dining table and out of the patio doors into the garden in as overly-camp a manner as he could muster. It was silly but felt great. Just what he needed after that big dinner. Why didn’t they do this back home? Oh, he did love it here. He could sense the others following him and pranced even more outrageously. He turned round to grin at them all.
 His host and the other guests were still sitting at the table. They stared at him, puzzled. The dark-eyed woman, so pretty Alexei couldn’t look at her for long, asked if he had cramp. The boss let out one of her famous outraged donkey laughs. Then everyone was laughing. Alexei stood there in the garden, dew from the long grass seeping over his shoes and into his socks. He felt a fool.
That was over sixteen years ago but he still can’t look at a box of After Eight Mints without cringing.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Summoning the Ghost of Rita Marshall

She appeared just after we’d recalled and recited three of her sayings. Did she really used to utter ‘City desk. Duty pigeon’ when she answered the phone?  Never worked out what that meant but it did amuse her.
 Stella and I were sitting in my living room talking about all kinds of things when we realised. We’d known each other getting on for twenty years but only then discovered we had both previously worked with Rita Marshall, Stella in the early eighties, me in the late.
We dredged up and swapped remembered details and decided it had to be the same Rita Marshall. The children’s names were the identical, both Rita Marshall’s had died in their fifties and no two people would say ‘Up here for thinking, down there for dancing’ pointing to head and feet respectively.
Would they?
Then Stella heard her laugh but I said it was the magpies on the chimney pots outside but soon I caught the smell of smoke in my throat and there she was. Rita Marshall. Taking up room on my sofa. She lifted her cigarette to her well pink-lip-sticked lips, a finger of ash clinging to its end. She held it still, eyes scanning the room for an ashtray. She laughed again.
   ‘I wouldn’t pay ‘em in empty fag packets.’

Sunday, 17 June 2012

First Half of 2012

Thought I’d do a round-up of my writing year so far …

As well as my stories in the Jawbreakers and 100RPM anthologies I mentioned in this previous post, my story ‘Rooftops’ was in the shortlist for Short Fiction’s 6th Annual Short Story Competition  and a flash, ‘Waiting in the Window’ was longlisted for the Flashbang
competition. Quite a challenge for me to write a crime flash in 150 words. This competition produced some great winners. Amazing what you can do in so few words.

My reading-vids for the two 100RPM stories Here and My Boy are now on youtube and a handful of people have actually watched them!

I also had another six stories published online ...

Cat and Dog and Her Name were the result of writing to prompts in the run up to National Flash Fiction Day. I don’t usually like themes and prompts as I generally have lots of story ideas to work on but I did enjoy the challenge of writing these and the 'joining in' aspect. I had another story in Flashflood on the day itself. ‘Maybe’ is my answer to Hemmingway’s famous six word story, I got great comments, on the site and through twitter, and also posted it on the blog here.

'Ivy', my 1000 word long-for-a-flash-short-for-a-short story about a fast food addicted young man getting over the death of his grandmother appeared in Issue 3 of Eclat Fiction and Boiling Mad can be found on 330words and was inspired by a work colleague asking why we call a sandwich a sandwich. I would love to do a reading of this one day. Very very angrily.

Last but not least, Machine Number Five was a favourite of the two writer friends who read it initially, got highly commended in the Creative Writing the Artist's Way Take a Leap Competition (in which my friend Stella Turner 's story 'The Daily Echo and 20 Bensons'  was one of the ten chosen for the Take a leap anthology) then  received lovely comments from strangers on The Pygmy Giant where it now appears, got commented on, with a link on Dan Powell ’s The Long and the Short of It and ... even my mother said she liked it …  twice!

‘Machine Number Five’ is the story of a washing machine that’s had enough of washeteria life and sets off on an adventure. The consensus seems that I’ve been successful at getting into the mind of a machine, making the reader feel empathy and that they're rooting for it. This pleases me so much but really it’s my story; of being brave and leaving my job and home town to go to university in another part of the country.

I have also just received feedback from the first person to read the whole of my novel. I now know that I have a novel and the few things have to do (including the possible removal of a character or the fusing of two characters together) before it's finally ready to send somewhere ... but that is another story.

Thursday, 31 May 2012


I love an anthology of stories. I always read the list of titles first. They make a story in themselves. A story of intriguing possibilities. And not for me the start-to-finish approach like reading a novel. I prefer the chocolate box method, picking out what I fancy first. Sometimes I absolutely MUST find out what a particular story is all about or the title makes me imagine what the story’s theme might be. Or perhaps I recognise the author’s name. I often pick the shortest story as an initial taster then longer one to savour. Then I begin to wonder if someone had carefully put all these stories in a particular order …

So … I’m very pleased, thrilled even, to have stories in two anthologies that have been launched this month.

My flash, ‘Harps’ is in Jawbreakers, the National Flash Fiction Day Anthology, along with a whole collection of one-word-title flashes, some by writers who were commissioned and others who, like me, submitted. Harps is a mere 178 words long, fitting nicely on page 51. I’m especially proud to be in this anthology because two years ago I read some flashes by one of the commissioned writers, David Gaffney, and was inspired to write shorter short stories. Jawbreakers is available on Amazon for Kindle or in old fashioned papery versions (and very nice too) from National Flash Fiction Day 

The other anthology is out today. Called 100RPM, it features one hundred hundred- word stories all inspired by songs on youtube. Lots of interesting stuff and what looks like a wide selection of songs. I intend to spend some time listening to the song, reading the stories and finding music that is new to me. Many of the bands and singers i have never heard. very much stuck in the late seventies when it comes to music. My stories in 100RPM are called ‘Here’, inspired by Some Fantastic Place by Squeeze and ‘My Boy’ inspired by My Perfect Cousin by The Undertones 

100RPM has been put together, from initial writing challenge to finished anthology by writer Caroline Smailes (she writes about it here here) It has an introduction by Nik Kershaw and is being sold on Amazon for Kindle for just £1.02 in aid of a charity called One in Four that helps victims of sexual abuse.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012


You were ten and half pounds when you were born. People kept calling you ‘bouncing’ and ‘bonny’. I told Auntie May on the phone so she knew you were a big baby but by the time her christening present arrived I could see they wouldn’t fit.
Lovely baby shoes. Neatly stitched in soft red and green leather. I remember Rosie and Izzy taking a shoe each out of the box. They turned them round in their hands. The leather gleamed. They decided the tiny stitches and intricate embroidery had been done by elves. This made them both giggle. You joined in from your cot as they dangled the magic elf-made shoes above your head. Maybe that was your first laugh.
Rosie and Izzy did try to get them on your feet. You just kicked the air and chuckled at them. Even when they tried putting socks on you they had the same trouble. Good job you had a Mum and two helpful sisters or you’d never have worn socks or shoes for more than a few seconds. Or hats. What you liked best was being on the rug, in your birthday suit. I know, I know. Don’t look at me like that.
The shoes were put back in their box. We could get good money for those, your Dad said. We advertised them for sale. Your sisters made a poster to go up in the shop. I said put ‘Brand New’ but the girls thought ‘Never Worn’ sounded better.
We sold them to someone further up the hill, a Mrs. What-was-her-name? No, of course I don’t expect you to know. The girls would remember. We’ll ask them later.
I know you’ve heard all this before, love, but I think of those shoes every time I come round here and trip over your size fourteen boots in the hallway.