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Category Archives: Writing

After working for months on something that won’t see light any time soon, I had the chance to consider what I was going to do; how and if I wanted to move forward.  Aside from the “Stuff it all” knee jerk responses – a regular occurrence no matter what the rejection. One of these was “get out more.”

Not to the pub… I don’t need help there.

I decided to heed my own advice and socialise. Not easy around everything I do, but I missed the regular in-person meetups from university. At the same time I was lucky to be invited to join the Hornsea Writer’s group.

Writing groups can be a simple get together over a coffee or pint, or something more formal.

Yes, the invite was sealed in wax and delivered by messenger. Not only that, but there’s also a secret puzzle you must decipher each week to open the door. *

I know plenty of authors and those starting out who don’t like to do the ‘people’ thing, but there are good reasons to venture into (or in my case returning to) a writing group.

A Reason to Focus on Writing.

From a productivity aspect, I suddenly have face to face accountability. Online you don’t have to login and own up to not doing the words. You aren’t derailed into seventeen other conversations and a Twit-storm. You are there for a reason and with a very good group leader you stick to the reason. Writing.

Turning up regularly also causes me to consider prioritising writing over – oh I don’t know, pratting about on the latest Facebook game, and any other thing that likes to jump the to do queue, like cleaning! Writing is also me time. Something I do for me.  

Taking Care of the Writer: Emotional Wellbeing and Self Care

Something many authors need is the ability to discuss things important to them. I simply can’t hold a meaningful conversation about editors/industry/fonts/covers with my husband/kids/friends/the mum next door. Yet at a group you might find you over run because you’ve all got something to say. All of a sudden you’re not the only one fighting with sentence structure.  If like me your connection to other grown-ups is limited, seeking out that conversation helps reduce your isolation – a vital defence against the dark arts depression. While you can share similar issues in an online forum, it’s also easy to misconstrue things posted there.  Getting out of the house has done wonders for my positivity and state of mind.

Improving Your Writing Skills.

Every writer who takes their work seriously will know what they want to improve, what their weak points are. It starts at a “is this ok” and as you produce more gets to “This is the bit that doesn’t work.” An outside perspective of your work helps you analyse it as a reader would.

The Hornsea group consists of many published writers, Penny Grubb, Linda Acaster, April Taylor, Annie Wilkinson, Karen Wolfe and Madeline MacDonald being the faces I know. Stuart Atkin and Rick Sumner are more “behind the scenes”. While most will agree they aren’t too familiar with the genre knowledge, their understanding of what a narrative needs is most welcome.

Feedback from my group helps hone what I call Glassy Eye syndrome, the point where you lose your captive audience. Going to group also gives me this opportunity to speak aloud. Reading live is something that puts the fear of God in most writers I know. It’s excellent practice for readings.

Book Marketing and Story Promotion.

Most if not all the writing groups I have known of and been a part of have done something to raise awareness of either the trade or their own group as a whole. Hornsea Writers has its own blog (which I have yet to find the time to add content too). Their blog is just one example of promotion, some groups arrange newsletters and provide articles for the local press. Many hold library events, tables at fairs and as such help you get your work out there at a fraction of the cost of having your own table.  Some members if not all have a blog, or a network of friends, helping you get the word out there. If you’re really lucky the group might create their own anthology. Any and all of these allows you to get your work in print, read by others, or even bought by readers.

 Opportunity for the Writer.

As well as the opportunity to promote your work and reach audiences, it’s all about finding a home for the words you write. Going to a group opens more possibilities for you to find new calls for stories, competitions, grants, and writer events happening in the area. Not everything is promoted on Twitter/Facebook.

I became blasé about my approach to my writing, thinking I didn’t need or have time to. I won’t be ditching my online groups, though. For some people it’s the only option. Traveling distances can limit your possibilities.

If you’re happy to see the difference a writing group can make, check out The Writing Magazine’s database of groups.  If a genre specific group is the only thing you’re willing to consider, Allen Ashley recently compiled a Science Fiction and Fantasy group database for the British Fantasy Society, which includes Science Fiction.


*I have also developed a much better skill at parking my car in impossibly small spaces.



Writers are used to rejection. (Here’s a collection of woe-is-me turned wow stories. There’s  this, or even this one are all relevant to the great wheel of rejection) Where ever a writer might be on the career scale, best seller or new to the market there is still rejection. It comes with the job. The story might be brilliant but just doesn’t fit an editor’s requirement; the novel might require more attention to point of view, or it’s on the wrong slush pile.

It’s a gated flow system, which often loops on itself. (It’s something they don’t tell you in workshops or courses.) Getting to acceptance generally involves: Gate one: Drafts. Gate two: Edits.  Gate three: Does it fit? Gate four: Will it sell?  Gates five onward once you get the contract. Yes, there are more beyond signing with a publisher or agent. For every gate you get past you realise your work is improving, but in balance the drop is harder. As more join the chorus of support for your work you allow yourself to believe a little more – even as you know there still might be a ‘no’ in the system.

For the past year I’ve had such a project. It’s been fun working in a world which eventually stumbled over something beyond my control. I’ve grown as a writer because of it, and it’s the main reason why my blog has been so quiet.

Whenever a rejection comes it raises demons: self-doubt, anger, frustration. Every writer has answers for these demImage of a demon, red beast with fangs and spines.oralising monsters. So close, yet so far. My demons have been busy this last month going above expectation with unhelpful advice and distractions. It takes a while for the doubt to die. But it does. Answers come if you know that you have done the work. It allows you to understand that some rejections are outside of your influence. Knowing that there are other authors out there who have mourned their own losses makes you realise it is not the end.

It’s not wasted; no work is ever wasted.  No matter how good the work and how many promises are made. Sometimes the answer is still no. My demons have become tolerated strays, and I know what to feed them to get them to shut the hell up.

These types of setbacks are part of the learning curve, yet they really do blindside you. Get used to it. Life’s not fair. Opportunity doesn’t knock in publishing. Sometimes you have to kick its door down, figuratively of course.

When I opened my curtains this morning onto a non-descript autumn day, I found a rainbow waiting outside my window. Traditionally my view is nothing spectacular: a road, and houses in all directions. If I’m really lucky I might get to hear bird song over the new developments’ machinery.

New houses on green land, new houses on flood plains, new roads, new shops. Irritating drivers, thoughtless pedestrians. I might as well live in a fantasy world.

No one listens just outside of Hull any more than they do inside it, I suspect. Yes, City of Culture 2017 lots of things happening, not all of it ‘Hull’.  Yes there’s that stigma again.  An understandable one for those of you from Fantasycon who happened to have survived the meal offerings at Scarborough’s Grand.

Hull? Isn’t that the place the PM just compared to Detroit? There’s a lot about Detroit I like, but I do worry for the city up the road when targets are placed on things so few get. A bit like Shoreditch, and planners designing roads for towns they’ve never been in.

Yet, despite all these negatives and changes – be they wanted or forced upon us – I’m surrounded by endless references to worlds that don’t exist and a culture that cannot be bought in or rebuilt at any price. Even though ‘outsiders’ are trying. Generations ago the town told a king to ‘do one’, a true rebel revolt waiting to be found in the history books. And that’s not the only one.

While the politics at a local level might belong in a dystopian novel along with the rotting boats along its beck, buildings born from fishing wealth inspire Georgian alternate history tales down streets where Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell would be quite at home.

I still expect to see Lord Poppy (Emma Newman's Split World Series) here one day.

I still expect to see Lord Poppy and his entourage (Emma Newman’s Split World Series) here one day. Image by Jon Parkes Photography

Inspiration for Lewis Carroll lies in wait at one church, while Tolkien’s touch is everywhere. Under-crofts and ancient churches treasure their secrets, next to narrow staithes hiding murderous lore of their own. The source of the town’s multicultural world building stares us in the face as we pop in to Maccy D. The essential component to any fantasy novel, the ‘barter town’ market trades under many faces. The nightlife would give Bladerunner a run for its money.

The future veers out across the Humber where its bridges are swallowed in paranormal mist.

Avoiding its miserable mud as the fog rolls on, the ghosts of Romans still search for their missing mosaic. Further along, over lost raised walkways, souls continue their pilgrimage to towering standing stones. Secret rooms buried in rubble uncover the forgotten meeting places of the elite and still standing pubs hold tight to the conspiracies plotted there. Pillar boxes maintain their guard for the airships while buildings draped in tattered canvas plead for a hero to rescue them. Shelters crumbling into an eroding coast are blinded by the hazey sun while pirates saunter back down the estuary.

HMS Bounty approaching Paull. Humber Bridge in background. Image by Karen Constantine. Source BBC.

Not actually a pirate. HMS Bounty approaching Paull with Humber Bridge in background. Image by Karen Constantine. Source BBC.

There’s so much to complain about these days, yet we take so much for granted. Like an unexpected rainbow filling a grey sky with colour.

So I’m quite happy living in my fantasy world, and I’m certainly grateful for the endless inspiration. Its global and diverse population are a great source for characters and conflict. That unsuspecting hero? Hull is one great big community that won’t turn its back on a friend.

Of course the rule for Hull is you don’t mock Hull unless you’ve lived it. Everyone Back To Ours, is the phrase for the coming year so you can’t say you haven’t been invited.

Snubbing it? You can probably do one. 😀




Five pm (GMT) on Saturday the 3rd of September  is when the launch party for Explorations: Through the Wormhole starts over on Facebook. Come and have a natter with…

Cover shows Wormhole with spacecraft approaching

Buy this anthology. RIGHT NOW!

Fourteen authors who have contributed to the anthology from Woodbridge Press, including myself. My story, When the Skies Open, is one of fourteen in this shared universe. Themes of the stories range, but When the Skies Open questions the future of an accidental interstellar colony. The fun kicks off at…

Three pm (EST) for those of you ‘across the pond’. The ebook format is the first version which will be available, but Explorations: Through the Wormhole will be available in paperback and audio versions as well, very soon. I have had the pleasure of interviewing…

Two of the other contributors, P. J Strebor and Thaddeus White over SFFWorld, and Jo Zebedee featured on House on The Borderland and SFFWorld. Of course it is…

One anthology, but is it just one universe? Well it was supposed to be just one anthology, yet a second is already in the works. So come and see. It will be a…

Blast. Off hand, I can’t think of anywhere I’d rather be.

 Gif features launch sequence from new Thunderbirds TV Show

Ok. Enough messing about, we’re all adults here, right? 

Explorations: Through the Wormhole is released today, it’s available from Amazon, and direct from the publisher, Woodbridge Press. While many anthologies share a common theme, the Explorations series share a common universe, and many of the stories touch upon the same history and may even share a common future. Join us on Facebook in the comfort of your own wifi. The authors will be dropping in throughout the launch for fun and prizes!

I’d tell you more but you know the book’s always better if you read it yourself.

 Banner shows starfield background and cover of Through The Wormhole. Image also features the list of authors included in the anthology in a silver-metallic effect font


About this time of year most parents eye the calandar and count down the days until their children are forced back into a tight schedule of soul enriching learning.


Instead I have several countdowns to keep me completely focused, calm and collected.

Saturday 27th  August 2016 will see HumberSFF’s first event, David Tallerman and BFS_Logo_red_SMALLDaniel Godfrey have somewhat bravely accepted the invitation to be the guest BSFA_Logo_2014authors for the night. An event that wouldn’t have happened without behind the scenes help. I’m supposed to be keeping things organised, I might even ask them a question or two. Time will tell.

Friday 2nd September 2016. The release of Explorations: Through the Wormhole happens. The anthology features my short story, When the Skies Open. Mark your Facebook Events now!  You don’t even have to leave the sofa to take part in this one, there’s freebies to win & the chance to talk to all the contributing authors throughout the day. I mean, how often do you get sit at the same digital table as this lot?ExplorationsThrough The Wormhole_WoodbridgePress

If you’re really lucky they might buy you a virtual drink when the bar opens too. Might and virtual being key important words there. More about that soonish.

(4th of September…back to school! – see I’m not counting down at all.)

23rd September sees the start of FantasyCon. Where I may or may not be chairing a fcon2016logo-300x66panel.


And then there’s the writing. By luck and careful planning the writing hasn’t been completely abandoned through the summer break. A breakthrough has been made!