My photo
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!

Friday, 20 December 2013

Nazareth Care Day Nursery Lancaster Cook Book

My Cook Book is now on sale in the nursery. If anyone else wants to buy one then you can pay me £3.50 via paypal (let me know if you don't have my email) and I'll post it off to you.

The book contains nineteen recipes, main courses, puddings and teas. I've been a nursery cook over twenty years, hence my dedication ...

This book is dedicated to the hundreds & thousands of children I’ve cooked for since 1991

This is a sample recipe from the book

Malt Loaf

This is recipe is designed to be dairy- and egg-free but you could add an egg and use milk instead of the apple juice if you prefer. One member of staff has said that my malt loaf is ‘a million times better than the one you buy in the shops’!
A quarter of a 454g jar Malt Extract
A quarter of a 454g jar Golden Syrup
50g. /2 oz. Margarine
150 ml. ¼ pint Apple Juice
350g. / 12 oz. Plain Flour
1 ½ tsp. Baking Powder
175 g. /6 oz Dried Fruit (I use a mixture of Sultanas, Raisins and Apricots)
25 g. /1 oz. Soft Brown Sugar

Place flour, baking powder, sugar & fruit in a large bowl. Melt margarine, syrup & malt slowly in a pan with the apple juice. Add the warm mixture to the dry ingredients & stir to combine everything. Place in a greased & floured 2 lb. loaf tin & cook 170ÂșC/325°F/Gas Mark 3 for 40-45 minutes. Allow to partially cool before removing from the tin. Serve sliced & spread with butter or spread. Makes 12 slices.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Stories for Homes

I have no experience of homelessness. Despite never earning much money compared to most I have always had the help of my family. The reason I now own my own flat is that my aunt who had no husband or children died and my parents gave the money from the sale of her bungalow to my brother & I. Not everyone’s family can help them, not everyone is able to work or are healthy. I know this makes me very very lucky.

The Stories for Homes anthology features 63 stories & poems on the theme of home and features a story by me, called Patricia, which I wrote specifically for this anthology. It combines a look at the problem of hoarding and an exploration of how someone can be a different person at home than they are at work.

When I wrote and submitted Patricia I wondered if the hoarding theme would be popular so I was pleased when it was accepted to be in the anthology. The editing process (writers were paired off and gave feedback on each other’s stories) was a good experience.

I now have my copy. When I read anthologies I like to read the titles and pick the stories at random rather than read from start to finish. I’ve already read about a quarter of the stories. I’ve been interested to see the variety of interpretations of the home theme and I’ve yet to see one about hoarding.

Stories for Homes is available on Amazon as a fat paperback (my mother complained that she had to go to the door because the copy I sent her wouldn't fit through her letterbox!) or for kindle. All the royalties go to Shelter and I hear that’s over a £1000 so far. I’m delighted to have been a small part of this brilliant project.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Morecambe Kite Festival Inspired Bathroom

Over the past few weeks I've been decorating my bathroom. It is quite small, has a sloping roof and a step down into it. From the day I moved in I declared it my least favourite room so I decided to try and make it a room I was keener to go in.
I painted it sky blue with clouds and birds and then attempted to recreate Morecambe Kite Festival with three small tins of emulsion in primary colours. I wanted to portray the amazing sight of all these kites flapping around in the sky and added a bit more each day until I pronounced it finally finished on Friday. 

 The view from the doorway

 I even painted the back of the door

I doubt there's another bathroom quite like mine

Rather proud of the little people holding the strings!

Dolphins above the shower

The toilet is a separate room. I’ve yet to decide how I’m painting it but I’m sure a bright idea will come to me.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Queen of the World Synopsis & Other Writing News

This is the synopsis for my novel. Since starting to submit to agents in February, I've had four requests for the full manuscript, three of which have ended in rejection. The third one was rejected after a couple of days, which made me realise I actually LIKED the weeks of waiting for the other ones. I like the walking round with a little nugget of hope in my heart that something exciting just MIGHT be about to happen.


Queen of the World, a literary-commercial tragi-comic magical-realism contemporary novel set in a seaside town in Northern England, tells the story of Marjorie Queen, an ordinary woman in her fifties. Ordinary, that is, except that since her teens she’s been influencing and controlling the world’s weather.

Marjorie doesn’t understand why she’s so drawn to single father Stuart and his daughter Manda but she ignores everyone else’s weather to make things perfect for them. They all go and meet Stuart’s father for the first time. Hugo King is a local artist who, throughout the story, creates temporary sculptures of mythical creatures from natural materials: a sand and pebbles mermaid on the beach, a Yeti made from snow, a carved goblin pumpkin, a chocolate unicorn. As well as Stuart’s father he is also the boy Marjorie loved at fifteen and who she’s spent the past thirty-seven years believing dead.

The shock of this realisation makes Marjorie run away but soon she and Hugo are thrown together as part of a search party for a missing macaw. Marjorie has to confront memories of her late mother and stepfather, Frank. She imagines what she should have done when Frank abused and lied to her and she blames herself for believing his big lie about Hugo.

When Marjorie invites Hugo for a meal he tells her he has a terminal illness, is refusing treatment and wants her help with a last piece on the hill. Marjorie becomes angry and tells him to leave. She cannot bear to lose him all over again.

Marjorie’s visited by past memories that seem very real: Frank’s abuse and the time she and her mother scattered Frank’s ashes but above all, the past she can never return to, particularly the last perfect day with Hugo. After succumbing to a bout of Christmas and New Year depression, Marjorie decides she must help Hugo.

Marjorie, Hugo, Stuart and Manda set off up the hill to complete Hugo’s last ambitious work of art. Hugo marks out the form of a creature and they start to dig trenches but the work is too much for them & they are hampered by weather Marjorie isn’t able to control. In a quiet moment Marjorie tells Hugo what she never told anyone - that Frank sexually abused her. Then she realises Hugo has died. Marjorie does the most ambitious controlling of the weather of her life. By bringing a storm to the hillside, she enables Hugo to go out in a blaze of glory as the final creation is struck by lightning and becomes a flaming dragon that Hugo is a part of.


In other writing news, I have a story, ‘Patricia’, in the Stories for Homes anthology, which is being sold in aid of Shelter and is full of stories with the theme of ‘home’. It’s just an e-book at the moment but there are plans for an old fashioned papery version in the near future.

I had another story and photogragh on 330 words in July. It’s called ‘Hold On Tight’ and was inspired by the Venus and Cupid Sculpture, which is on Morecambe seafront near the entrance to Happy Mount Park and only a short walk along the promenade from where I live.

Finally, my 250 word story, ‘One Eye’ is in the long list for the Lightship One Page Prize. One Eye. One Page. Sal Page. I like that … and I like having another one of those little nuggets of hope.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Lemon Cheesecake

I’m in the process of creating a cookbook for work and getting a bit bored of writing recipes in the normal fashion. This is my attempt at writing one in an unconventional way. Hope it makes some kind of sense.

Lemon Cheesecake? It’s easy. Just get twelve digestive biscuits. There’ll be some in the tin if you’re lucky. Ten or eleven would do. Crush ‘em and add to the bigger half of a half-pound pack of butter that you’ve melted. Tip this lot into a six, seven or eight inch tin of any shape. Whatever you’ve got. I’m not in the business of sending you to a kitchen shop with a ruler. Compact the crumbs mixture down like you’ve just planted some seeds in it. Stick in the fridge while you whip up the filling.
Dump the contents of a small tub of cream cheese (lower fat if you want but never ever ever onion and chive flavour) and a small carton of double cream into a bowl and whisk together with a blender or any sort of whisk until good and thick and dollopy. Before (or during if you’re particularly dextrous) the last few whiskings, add a couple of heaped teaspoons of icing sugar and half of the finely grated rind of one largish lemon, having previously selected the lemoniest looking lemon in the shop. Load this mixture onto the biscuity bit and spread out. Stick in the fridge while you cook up your lemon topping.
Put the rest of lemon’s rind in a small jug and squeeze in the juice. Add another three teaspoons of icing sugar and one of corn flour and a splash of water. Whisk up and heat in the microwave, whisking occasionally, until thickened. Now just confidently splatter, flick or drizzle the lemony sauce all over the top of the cheesecake in a sort-of Jackson Pollacky style. Chill in the fridge for anything between an hour-or-so or a day. Spend some of that time chilling on the sofa. You, not the cheesecake. Could serve eight. Or six. Whatever. Serve a slice with a few strawberries or raspberries chucked at it. Add some chocolate if you like. Or cream. Or ice cream. Eat within three days. Why wouldn’t you?

(If you must know, the butter is 125g, the cream cheese 200g & the double cream 150 ml.)

Serve on one of your Nan's old plates

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

They’re Not Mythical – Part Two

Tea at the Midland

The ‘mythical requests for the full’ of my previous post are very real. Since February, I’ve had a total of three agents requesting the full manuscript of Queen of the World, two of which have ended in rejection. The third arrived in my inbox yesterday and I sent my manuscript on its way. I’m banking on the truth of that often used saying ‘third time lucky’ but I won’t be putting it down to the gift from a seagull I got recently. In my hair and on my shoulder it was. How on earth can that be considered good luck?

A special Queen-of-the-World related THANK YOU goes this month to my holiday guest, Stella (@stellakateT) who sat on my sofa for a fair chunk of her visit reading my novel. On the last day we went for afternoon tea at the Midland Hotel here in Morecambe and Stella made it very obvious she had read, enjoyed and absorbed my novel from a lot of that-bit-where’s and talking about the characters as if they were real people.

Monday, 22 April 2013

My TBR Pile

At the suggestion of Paul Magrs, here is my TBR pile complete with 'small stuffed friend' (Edward has spent his whole life looking serious, bless him. Perhaps he's laughing inside.)
Two of these are re-reads ... the GK Chesterton stories (originally my grandfather's) which I read decades ago & found really funny ... and 'The Man in the Rubber Mask', a fun read that will probably make me want to watch old eps of Red Dwarf again.
And this year I'm determined to learn something about gardening (attempting to grow veg) with Monty Don's help.
Looking at the photo I see my well worn Chronicles of Narnia lurking behind. Would love to read them again one day.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

They're Not Mythical

Within a few days of submitting to agents at the beginning of February I was ASTOUNDED to receive what, at the time, I thought of as 'the mythical request for the full'.

I sent off the complete manuscript (all 81,634 words) of Queen of the World to the agent's assistant who asked for it and waited, while trying to crack on with first draft of the second one. She kept in touch as she read it, saying how much she was enjoying it, then emailed to say she'd handed it to the agent. All very encouraging.

After a few more weeks I received a very nice rejection. Basically, the assistant adored it (her word, 'adore'!) but the two agents, who’d both read and enjoyed the whole thing and said that I write 'incredibly well' weren't 'lovestruck' enough.

Well ... you could wait your whole life for someone to be lovestruck!

But I still felt positive. It was all too good to be true anyway. During this waiting time I had several other straight rejections - the sort of thing, when I embarked on this, I expected to get from all the agencies.

And now ... just last week I got another 'request for the full' from an agent who says that my novel has a 'brilliant opening'.

They're not 'mythical'. They're very real and very possible.

And the first one clearly wasn't a fluke.

So I'm waiting again. Waiting and wondering and trying not to get my hopes up too much while making sure they are up just enough. Tricky stuff!

I've just got this bracelet. Perhaps not that clear on the photo but it has 'Queen of the World' engraved on it. The jewellery-loving writer's version of wearing your heart on your sleeve?

Sunday, 3 February 2013

My Writing Space and the Blurb for Queen of the World

This my writing space. I love my beautiful oak desk, bought with money from my grandmother. It nearly fills the bay window in my living room and is where I write, think, read, email, tweet, eat and also where I procrastinate - watching TV, seeing the neighbours go by and keeping an eye on the sky.

This week I’ve reached the stage where I’m finally about to submit my novel, Queen of the World, to agents. I started writing it in October 2010 from a 500 word story that wanted to be longer. The first two drafts weren’t written at this desk. They were written at a rickety table from my uncle Bob’s garage. Much of the editing and procrastinating happened at the new desk. And maybe – just maybe - there will be more editing to come.

Everything will be ready to post/email on 9th Feb. ‘All being well’ and ‘touch wood’ as my mother would say. Anyway, I thought I’d put the short synopsis or ‘blurb’ here …

Queen of the World is a literary-commercial contemporary novel full of tea, toast and tidying, of cloud-watching, time, memory and coincidence. Marjorie Queen is an ordinary woman, except for influencing the weather. Reunited with Hugo, the boy she loved at fifteen and spent thirty-seven years believing dead, she realises her abusive stepfather lied to her. Hugo’s now an artist creating temporary mythical creatures from natural materials. Will Marjorie help him with his last ambitious piece?

My plan for once all the sample chapters with their accompanying synopses and cover letters have been posted? I’m going to get out another short story that wants to be a novel and the few notes I’ve done and start work on the second one.

This week I had a photo and story published on 330 Words called Footprints.