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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!

Monday, 8 September 2014

My Writing Process

Stella Turner tagged me to do this writing process thing so here goes ...


What I am working on

I’m working on my second novel …

Fast Talking : A Tragi-comic Tale of Lies, Apologies and Emergency Tissues. ‘What happens when Carly, who can’t stop apologising, meets fast talking Jackie, who never does, and asks the question ‘Are you my mother?’

I have around 82k words and have just sent it to two writer friends from my MA group (I’ve read & commented on their novels too) Then I will further redraft/edit and write my synopsis and cover letter and submit to agents. Again. I submitted my first novel, Queen of the World, to thirty agents and got four requests for the full manuscript, which unfortunately all ended in rejection. Queen of the World = Practice Novel. (Sal's sad face)

I dip out of the novel now and then to work on my short stories. I usually have several on the go at any one time. Or I write a flash to the picture prompt on The Angry Hourglass or for a themed competition.

How does my work differ from others of its genre

I never know what genre I’m writing in. I just know that I’m most likely to be mixing comedy and tragedy, bringing in a bit of magic or writing something that seems nice and sweet on the surface but underneath is something sinister. I like writing that doesn’t seem like writing but that just goes straight through to the heart and brain. Easier said than done.

Why do I write what I write

I write what I write because they are my ideas and I enjoy writing them. Ideas for me are anything that is particularly funny, sad, interesting, intriguing or unusual. Or if I’m lucky, all five!

We just have to recognise ideas when we see them in front of us. Story fodder.

How does my writing process work

Put simply, I cobble something together (hence the name of my blog).

Put less simply …

From an idea I can see the story, or part of it anyway, forming in my mind. This is usually when I find myself scribbling notes on the bus or on the notepad on my windowsill by my bed or on scraps of paper at work. I can be cooking for seventy people, chatting to someone I’m working with and still be coming up with something in my head that I have to jot down before it goes. Multi-tasking-tastic!

Then I start a file with a working title. Or if I’m lucky an actual title because sometimes titles come first. I type up my notes, adding anything that comes to me as I do so. I’ll then write whichever part seems clearest in my mind and add more notes. I move paragraphs and sentences around, on the look out for a grab-the-reader first line and a suitable last line, which I may have at the start or it may come much later.

I read through what I have several times, adding and changing as I go. By this stage I’m keeping an eye on the word count because I might be writing something for a particular competition. Generally speaking though, the idea dictates the length and you have to let it be the length it wants to be. And of course when writing a novel I want the word count to get higher and higher and be too long because there will be a whole load of scaffolding that needs removing. Many times I find my first sentence or even paragraph is scaffolding. It needed to be there while I was writing but can be removed at the end and the story can stand up on its own.

I removed a lot of sentences from the novel in the redrafting when I realised that ‘She knows that, he knows that, we know that.’ Put it in the subtext.

At this stage I’ll leave what I have for a few hours, days, weeks or longer. I’ll come back and read through a few more times and edit further, or completely redraft if my subconscious has been working on it and has come up with something better.

I’m not one of those writers that forces herself to write every day. I can go for days or weeks without writing then find myself doing a ten hour edit session. This wouldn’t work for everyone but it does for me.

I usually write with TV or music on. Fine for when I’m just trying to get words down, any old words without censoring them. I ignore the voice in my head that says its rubbish. Doesn’t matter at this stage. This is where I find out things I didn’t know about my characters or where the story takes an unexpected turn.

Editing is done without TV or music because I’m reading out loud the whole time. Here’s where things get changed just because they sound better the new way. For the novel I’ve written a lot of scenes with just dialogue and then filled in the rest later. That’s for when I can hear the characters talking to each other. Or arguing.

Final polishing involves reading through a few more times … or more than that. It’s never finished. Not really REALLY finished.

I have no one to tag. (Call the police!) Unless YOU want to do it of course?


  1. Never mind Practice Novel - it's the one they'll be begging to publish when this one is a best seller!

    PS The thought of 'cooking for 70 people' makes me want to faint!

    1. Thanks Lindsay. That's a lovely thought. Or third time lucky would do me then I can say I have these two all ready for you ... cancel fantasy mode!
      PS When I say 'people' they're mostly under five so its nothing really!